Open Source vs Proprietary LMS – Quick Guide

Posted by: waadmin
Category: eLearning
Open Source vs Proprietary LMS - Quick Guide

Choosing the right LMS for your organization can be a bit of a nightmare as there are so many out there. On top of that, deciding between an open source or proprietary platform can be really confusing. What does open source even mean? Because we look at LMSs with the end-user in mind, we tend to favor open source – especially for corporate learning. Here’s why.

Benefits of Open Source

We believe that, where a great solution exists for end-users, open source technology choices are in the best interests of the buyer.

  • Open source platforms benefit from a worldwide community of passionate developers, not just the changeable talent that works for one commercial organization.
  • The ability to tailor the platform to meet your precise needs means that open source platforms are flexible and scalable. Learning requirements are never static, which means neither is your LMS.
  • You’re not tied in to any one provider. When your customer experience starts to go downhill, it’s easy to change providers.
  • An open source LMS usually works out more cost-effective because there are no per-user licence fees. If your workforce is growing, imagine the significant savings.

Overview of our Guide

Below are some of the key factors to consider when choosing between an open source or proprietary LMS solution:

Security / Stability – Vulnerability to attack is a commonly spread myth by people selling a proprietary solution. A widely used platform may be a target for hackers, but with an open source learning platform, there is an army of developers upgrading the system and providing regular upgrades, plugins and patches.

Surveys of open source LMS users don’t seem to support the myth. When Kineo, co-creators of Totara Learn LMS, conducted a survey of its users, this was not cited as a problem, and one user stated:

“Open source is not as buggy and issues were resolved quickly. We were confident in the capabilities of the open source solution since it is used so broadly.”

If an issue or potential issue with a platform crops up, then wouldn’t you want the combined talents of thousands of developers worldwide working to support a quick solution?

Vendor lock-in – This is a key consideration when looking to make a future-proof LMS choice. An open source LMS like Totara, which has been around for over a decade and offers hundreds of accredited providers in addition to the many other professionals to support it, gives you the comfort of knowing that if you wanted a different provider to support you, other options exist.

A proprietary LMS solution means that you are locked-in to the provider, as well as the solution. If you want to switch, it could mean a complex migration process, rather than simply allowing a new LMS services provider to pick up and manage your existing platform.

Our quick PDF guide covers many of the other typical differences when assessing an open source vs proprietary LMS solution. Some proprietary platforms may provide several of the advantages of open source – some may offer both in-house and cloud hosting, for example.

The table shows the differences in most cases, and many are true across all the platforms, including the ability to download and work with code – enabled by GPL licence – and the power of community-driven product improvement.

Webanywhere are official Totara Platinum partners. If you would like a copy of our handy PDF guide, feel free to request this via our contact form