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Pros and cons: proprietary, open-source, and cloud-based LMS [Infographic]

Remember the rotary phone? How small and sleek it was, compared to its predecessor telephones! My nana had one and I very much enjoyed putting my little fingers in the circle slots of the rotary disk and play grown-ups.

Then the mobile phone conquered the masses. People did not depend on wires anymore, and they could have conversations with others even when they were outside! Need I remind you how small and sleek a Nokia 3310 was, compared to the rotary phone?

Now we use smartphones that are sleeker than ever (and sometimes still small), have touch screens, integrated photo cameras, and the power of a computer.

I wonder what the future will bring in terms of communication technology? Whatever will be, I'm sure people will remember Nokia 3310 as an ancient relic.

That's the thing with technology. It never stops evolving. Year after year, things get better and better, and nobody wants to get left behind.

As for business training technology, things are really not that different. Learning management systems for business organizations are under constant development; even the latest versions have some new features lined up, waiting to rock the boat again and again.

So, what are the types of business LMSs, and what are the good and the bad aspects for each of them? Read on.

pros-and-cons-of-proprietary-open-source-and-cloud-based-lmss Infographic

Proprietary LMS

This could be the equivalent of the rotary phone. It may not have all the bells and whistles, but it works. You may have some strings attached, and little room for movement, but it will always have your back.


A proprietary LMS is reliable. It has a history, it might have a well-known name, and it does what every LMS is supposed to do: enable the creation of training courses, and support the learning process. All the time.

It offers training and support, and it's accountable for the well-functioning of the system. All the time.


A proprietary LMS is not exactly cheap. You will have to pay for the all-the-time service. This might keep smaller organizations at a distance.

It's rather restrictive. Users don't have much space for testing new things or features. All clients must shout together for a new feature; one alone has only a slim chance to win it. Plus, the source code is not made available to clients, which means that customizing your internal learning portal is closer to a dream than to reality.

Open-source LMS

This is the equivalent of the mobile phone (like Nokia 3310, that is). Open-source learning platforms revolutionized the business education arena by focusing on teaching and pedagogy on top of the technical proper functioning of the system.


The great majority of open-source LMSs are free, or at least freemium - the basic package is free and you can use it limitless, but if you need or want other advanced features, you'll have to show them the money.

An open-source LMS is easy to use and also customizable. The users can access the source code in order to personalize their learning portal, add features, and even fix bugs.

It is built by a collaborative community. The equation is simple: the knowledge of three people is greater than one's. The more the people, the greater the common knowledge, the better the system.


An open-source LMS is built by a collaborative community. What happens between the time a knowledgeable member of the community drops the project they were working on, and the time another one jumps in to fill the gap? Also, who's to blame if the quality of the code is low, or when something goes seriously wrong? The whole community?...

An open-source LMS comes with some hidden costs: hosting fees, maintenance fees, back-ups, extra storage space, more tech supports. It may not be that free, after all. And the list goes on.

Cloud-based LMS

And so we come to the equivalent of the smartphone: sleek, powerful, adaptable, with all the latest apps, and huge storage space. Finally the user and its needs are at the center of learning technology!


A cloud-based LMS comes with low initial costs (which makes even independent freelancers consider it), and transparency for later expenses.

A cloud-based LMS offers a cornucopia of tools and features, meeting even the most sophisticated organizational learning needs.

The best things about choosing a cloud-based LMS is its scalability. If your company grows, you want your LMS to grow with it, and to do that smoothly.

For more advantages of a cloud-based LMS, check out this post.


If the biggest minus of smartphones is definitely the low battery life, the biggest disadvantage of a cloud-based LMS is... you tell me. Seriously. Please.

Some say that it's its reliability on an internet connection all the time; but the internet is spreading and still spreading.

Others say that it's data security. True, there are still vendors that don't comply with the latest security standards and don't have the latest security certifications. But there are also vendors that are up-to-date with everything related to data security.

I very much want to know what you think to be the greatest disadvantage of cloud-based learning management systems, so do share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Until next time, let's ponder on what is yet to come. What will be the successor of the smartphone? What will be the successor of the cloud-based LMS?

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