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A Graphic Example of the Risks of A Proprietary CMS (Content Management System)

A couple of weeks ago, we got a call at 4pm.  Our potential client had heard via e-mail at 3:15pm that their site was getting shut down by Monday and they should make alternative arrangements.  It's a proprietary CMS (Content Management System) - no alternatives.  Luckily, they had control of their own domain so we could get DNS moved to us.  This was Friday.  

Saturday morning we went to see what we could move.  We hoped to grab a fixed copy of their site at the very least.  Their site was already gone.  It appears their Provider had gone under.

The Internet Archive (the Wayback Machine - good fun when you have some spare time) had never been able to index the site (proprietary CMS again) and couldn't help us.  Querying Google's cache got us about 80% of the data, but not the functionality.  We put together a fixed copy of their site, put up "under maintenance" for functional sections, and then started talking to our new client to see how they wanted to go forward now that we had survived the weekend.

So what lessons do we draw from this?  Be careful about using a proprietary CMS. 

  • they are generally non-portable - no one has access or incentive to build an export tool
  • the CMS could change in a way you don't want (functionality no longer supported, etc...)
  • they could get purchased and cut you out (sometimes big clients buy up the provider)
  • could get dumped for whatever reason, including bankruptcy (today's story was a good example of this, we have others)
  • relationship could change with provider and you wish to move on, but now you have to start from scratch with someone else

Community supported CMSs provide good continuity, protection from most of the above issues, and the ability to change between providers if you need to.

We like to do other things on the weekend.  I am sure you do too.  You have been warned.




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Waterloo, Ontario
N2L 5Z4

Phone: 519.725.7875
Fax: 519.725.4220
Toll Free: 888.817.3048

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Winnipeg, Manitoba
R3C 1N1

Phone: 204.480.0314
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Toll Free: 888.817.3048

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