Cloud services provider Acquia has commissioned a Forrester report on open source WCM, and while the results are not overwhelming, it does show more enterprise companies are employing open source systems.

Nearly 60 percent of the 160 companies surveyed said they had at least considered open source for their WCM programs. The report also found that executives who make these kind of decisions are also the ones who are least likely to be very satisfied with their choice. 

Open Source Successes

Acquia certainly has a stake in the findings in this report. As a cloud services provider specifically for the open source Drupal ecosystem, Acquia would love to see more large companies adopt the open source ethos. Forrester found several large vendors who have successfully adopted open source CMSs, and there were a few reasons why those companies enjoyed that success.


Company infighting seems to be what is holding enterprises back when it comes to successful WCM implementation.

Company culture and classic marketing versus IT fighting may be the biggest reasons businesses failed to implement a new Web CMS, but let's look more closely at the number two reason: lack of a company wide strategy. This obviously goes hand in hand with number one, but at least Forrester has some recommendations for how to build that strategy. They are, in order:

  • Required a solution that allowed for more customization and flexibility.
  • Prioritized integration between WCM and other solutions to support digital customer experiences.
  • Focused on more than just cost reduction.
  • Made specific plans for supporting the open source WCM deployment.
  • Understood the myths and reality surrounding open source security concerns.

First, most companies agreed that open source allowed for more flexibility and customization. One survey respondant, a UK educational institution, told Forrester that when using a proprietary system, it took nine to 10 months to add a new feature. With open source, they were able to add functionality within days.

As for combining systems, the all-in-one solutions often offered by vendors does not seem to fit with those companies who had adopted open source. These companies preferred a best of breed approach, and often realized the power of the developer community to assemble system components.

Learning Opportunities

How to Choose an Open Source Web CMS

If you've been skeptical of open source in the past, you have nothing to fear from what Forrester says:

Open source has by and large achieved a higher level of technology maturity over the past several years and have demonstrated some success in large-scale web deployments."

It's not just entertainment, media and traditional education that are finding success with open source, the report reads. Governments, pharma and retail are having success with it as well, a sure sign it should not be excluded when evaluating Web CMSs.

Because open source allows for downloading entire systems for test driving, this is a decided advantage when doing an evaluation. Be sure to try out those prospective systems and contact the developer community for extra insight and validation.

Open source is not perfect, of course, so areas like support and implementation should be explored carefully. There are developers and system experts out there who have built networks on top of open source software. That way, many IT aspects can be outsourced including core platform support, module support, module creation and enhancement, system upgrades, integrations and 24 x 7 x 365 infrastructure and uptime.

Acquia, of course, offers just these kinds of services for the Drupal-based platform. The company has even begun diving into digital marketing with its latest release, called OpenWEM. Tell us in the comments if you've had reservations about open source in the past or if there are some concrete reasons it simply won't work for your purposes.