Open Source vs Proprietary Software

Written on the 31 January 2012

A common question we get asked by potential clients is about the pros and cons of using Open Source software vs Proprietary Software. In today's article, we'll look at some of the biggest factors you need to consider when choosing your Content Management System (CMS) to help you make a well informed decision.

What is Open Source Software?

Open Source Software is software that has been developed by lots of individuals for free on a volunteer basis. The Source Code is made available for other people to use and alter, which often makes it very appealing for developers who don't want to build something from scratch.

What is Proprietary Software?

Proprietary Software is owned by the individual or company that commissioned or developed it. In this instance the source code is kept secret because this is the company's competitive edge over others in the industry. The software that runs your Bloomtools Website and Database Marketing is an example of proprietary software. It has been developed in-house by our own team of developers and it is our unique design which sets us apart from other website developers that use the open source Wordpress or Joomla CMS applications that other website developers may use.

The Cost

Contrary to what the name may suggest, Open Source Software is not necessarily free. Although it is developed for free by volunteers, developers can, and do, charge for Open Source Software. There is almost always a cost to integrate your website design into an Open Source CMS and you may find that there are a number of hidden costs with using Open Source Software, including charges for any simple customisations you may need. Furthermore, a business needs to update their website every two to three years. This means that you will need to either pay someone to update your current website (which could be a massive job depending on how fast the Internet has advanced) or get a whole new website built. This costs money.

A proprietary software company is likely to look more expensive at first. After all, these companies have invested a lot of money in developing the source code from scratch and are offering a solution that is unlike anything else on the market. However you may actually find that the price evens out after a few years, particularly if you require regular updates to the software that is running your website. Companies like Bloomtools take it upon themselves to keep the software at the forefront of technology, so updates are regularly released to our clients for free - a service you would have to pay for if you were using Open Source Code. Furthermore, it takes a lot less effort to do an overhaul of an old website. In most cases, it's only the website skin that needs replacing because the software is already the most up-to-date version.

When Security Matters

Because the original source code of Open Source Software is readily available, they leave themselves open to hackers to find holes in the code which could compromise the security of your website. Furthermore, because your website developer did not create the software, they are not responsible for any security holes in the source code. If your website is hacked, you will then have to pay more money to your website developer to get it fixed.

On the other hand, proprietary software developers are fully responsible for the security of the application. At Bloomtools, our team are constantly monitoring any potential malicious attacks and researching new ways to prevent against possible future attacks. For more information, you can download our Security Whitepaper.


Of course, whenever you are about to make a big investment, you should always do your research. Each person's ideal solution is likely to be different to the next. A university student with limited funds who just wants a unique website to share with their friends and family are likely to find the solution they need in Open Source Software. However, a large company that stores sensitive data will require a more sophisticated solution that is always kept at the forefront of technology.

If you have any questions about how Bloomtools relates to this article, please contact your nearest Bloomtools consultant.