There is a lot of news and buzz these days about Open Source systems and how they are “better” for an organization vs. the traditional paid source ECM systems. The industry is currently occupied by both types of systems. Open Source tells you that you have the “freedom” and the source code for your implementation of an ECM or WCM System. Note: for purposes of this discussion ECM and WCM will be use d to encompass all the system types listed in section 4.2 While the paid source ECM vendors will argue that they have the long term vision and stability that you need for your organization going forward.
The truth is that both are right
The desktop and server operating system market is the best example that we can look to in order to see how open vs. paid systems can co-exist. At the time when Linux came to market, prognosticators said that Microsoft, SUN and Novell were dead. That everyone would be rushing to an open source platform for all of their servers. The reality is that open source does have a place in the market and only through market forces, consolidation and potentially poor business models has the server landscape significantly changed.
So if we take this model and extrapolate it to the ECM/WCM market place we find that organizations are embracing both open source and paid source systems. The truth of the matter is that every piece of software has a cost associated with it. If you pay an industry standard 20% maintenance fee to a paid source vendor, that is a fixed and predicable cost of software. If you embrace open source ECM, you will still look for support, you will have staff that will spend their time working with the open source community and internally developing new features for your open source system.
The key with any systems that you install is interoperability. Most ECM paid source vendors are embracing the ISO standards and making their systems more open than just a few years ago. So long as the vendor continues to embrace these standards then when you have to enforce retention rules and disposition across multiple platforms the function becomes easier. Obviously this whole discussion is predicated on the assumption that you will have multiple ECM /WCM systems in your organization. If you are just starting down the path o f an ECM system selection then standardizing on one system is easier in the long term. However, most organizations are not in this position and have to rely upon multiple vendors.