Content management systems are wide and varied. There are tons of them on the market, some are proprietary but a very large amount are created under an open source license. The reason for this is simple; it allows a small team of developers to become a bigger team by opening up their code to a wider community of users who may wish to contribute or provide enhancements.
This is one of the greatest strengths that open source products have; the often large pools of available developers. Of course, like anything, there can be downsides as well but lately, we've seen more and more open source products become viable options for companies in search of stable, regularly updated platforms on which to run their businesses. Today, I'm going to share with you my thoughts on how open source CMS' are taking over the world.
It'd be foolish of me not to tip my hat to the current king of open source CMS. WordPress has developed from a small but popular blogging platform to a widely used solution for websites of all sizes. Sadly, this also means it's very often used in situations where it isn't the right fit but there's no denying the incredible growth of WordPress, which powers almost 50% of the websites worldwide. Whether the stats are accurate or not, WordPress has some impressive staying power.
There are several factors that makes WordPress so popular: ease of use, a wide variety of theme selections from seasoned developers such as StudioPress, tons of third party plugins from successful online marketplaces like CodeCanyon and a large (and growing) network of companies and individuals who can provide support for the platform. Furthering this; should you wish to use the platform for more serious purposes, there's always the option to consider the WordPress.com VIP platform as a potential candidate.
The success of products like WordPress hinges on the community of developers worldwide who've found success developing for the platform and making a living from it by offering services such as theme development, plugin development, managed hosting and more. Companies have literally made millions supporting WordPress and continue to do so thanks to the widespread adoption of the platform.
It's not all about WordPress, however, although it's hard to write an article talking about the success of open source CMS without first point out one of the most successful ones. Companies like Acquia; formed by a desire to offer a more commercially supported Drupal; have had great success offering cloud based CMS offerings built on the success of their open source counterparts. Over the last few years, I've seen a number of companies take on this approach and begin offering not only cloud based solutions but other options like emergency support, migration assistance and even webmaster services. An example of this would be MODX, which now offers a wide variety of these services to help their user based get the support they need when they need it.
The most common means of monetizing open source CMS solutions is to offer support services. Popular platforms like Umbraco do this by offering monthly support packages that provide companies who choose to use their platform with the peace of mind of knowing someone is available should assistance be needed. Often times, this is a cheaper alternative to hiring in-house support staff for newly implemented open source CMS products.
Sadly, there are still several widely used platforms that offer no premium support or cloud solution to their communities. In my personal opinion, those are the products that will begin to fade in usage over time (at least as far as businesses are concerned). An example of one such company that I'd like to see begin to offer these types of services would be Joomla. Currently, Joomla! does not offer any support contract options nor a viable cloud based offering (Yes I'm aware of Joomla.com which is powered by Siteground but this is hardly something I'd recommend to a serious business and it's not the same as a cloud solution offered by the development group). Joomla! has a good opportunity with its already large user base to really expand their reach if they choose to go this route, something I hope they do before long.
Open Source CMS have been getting increasingly popular over the last few years with widespread adoption and growth thanks to companies realizing the value of having worldwide developer communities at their fingertips. As such, a lot of open source enterprise vendors have grown leaps and bounds thanks to this renewed interest. As we continue to see open source adoption sky rocket with these new cloud based offerings, the vendors who stay on top will be the ones that are agile enough to make the leap of faith required to get offerings like this in place sooner rather than later.