For users such as Timothy Perlick, director of online education at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), calculating such costs can tip the scales in open source's favor.
Right now, his
organization pays approximately $60,000 per year to a proprietary vendor to license 4,000 student seats.
Whenever usership expands beyond that allotment, says Perlick
, CME must "move users off" the system to make room for new ones to avoid incurring additional fees.
company's goal is to expand its course offerings and offer them to even more users over the next few years, Perlick's
team is "strongly considering" switching from proprietary to open source in the near future.
"With the growth we're experiencing, we easily could start incurring $100,000 to $125,000 per year in licensing fees," says Perlick
"For us, the decision isn't necessarily about up-front savings; it's about the long term.
With open source, once we have it set up, we won't have a licensing fee to pay—regardless of how much usage goes up."
That said, Perlick
adds, it's a good idea to get a support contract for any LMS for at least the first two years to support the administrators and instructors to ensure maximum deployment.
When using a proprietary LMS, a support contract typically runs 20 percent on top of the licensing.
Slave to the System
Fear of vulnerability is yet another reason cited by open-source users who consider for-profit LMSs
"too risky" a proposition.
"Despite all of the consolidations that have taken place, we still have a very fragmented market, particularly within the smaller LMS market," says Perlick