Face Off: Cloud LMS vs Open Source LMS


When choosing an LMS, whether it is for your business or educational institution, there are quite a lot of different factors that you need to consider before you make your final decision. You need to make sure that the LMS you choose really helps you achieve your goals and, with the rising number of various Learning Management Systems on the market, it can be more than overwhelming to pick just the right one for you and your needs.

However, one of the most important decisions that you need to make regarding choosing an LMS is to determine which installation type you actually want. If you cannot decide whether you should get a cloud LMS or an open source LMS, you have come to the right place. Take a look at all the pros and cons of both solutions, so that you can make an informed decision and ensure it is the best one for you and all the stakeholders who will use and be affected by the LMS.

Cloud LMS

Cloud-based LMSs are the latest type of Learning Management Systems but, as everything else, they do have both good and bad sides, depending on what you are looking for in the first place, so here are all the advantages and disadvantages of using them.



1. Low Initial Costs

A cloud-based LMS does not require any software or hardware installation, so it is a much more cost-effective solution than any other out there. You don’t need a big investment at all. Almost every LMS vendor provides a free trial, after which you will only have to pay the monthly fees of the package you choose. There are no hidden costs, as cloud-based LMSs come with cost transparency for any future expenses, which are not controlled by your vendor, but only by you.

2. Simple Setup with No Maintenance

The setup of a cloud-based LMS is very straightforward. All you need to do is create your account and log in – that’s it. Your LMS vendor will do all the maintenance, and they have professionals who are equipped to immediately fix any issue that may occur.

3. 24/7 Accessibility

With a cloud-based LMS, you and every stakeholder can have access to your online courses anytime and anywhere. All you need is a good Internet connection and you can access the content you need on any device, with no hassle whatsoever.

4. Excellent Scalability

A cloud-based LMS can very smoothly grow together with your organization. Scalability is perhaps the best benefit of this kind of Learning Management System. Most importantly, you don’t need to purchase or install additional software in order to scale your cloud LMS. You only need to upgrade your monthly package, but there are no hidden costs or extra fees for doing so.

5. Data Security

Your data will always be secure in the cloud, because LMS vendors have professionals who know exactly what to do in case of cyber-attacks. They can instantly track any suspicious activity and prevent any data breach. They have various safety measures in place and will always make sure that your data is secure.


1. Limited Customization

Not every cloud-based LMS enables you to customize your courses exactly the way you want to, and many of the vendors do not actually enable you to brand your cloud LMS. However, it’s important to note that a number of LMS vendors offer plenty of features and tools for customization, so make sure you do your homework before choosing one.

2. Data Security

There are LMS vendors that are not up-to-date with the latest data security measures and standards, so you need to make sure you choose a vendor that has the latest security certifications in order to make sure every piece of your data is always secure.

Open Source LMS

Open source LMSs also come with both advantages and disadvantages, but the latter can be a real deal breaker. Here’s what you can expect if you choose an open source LMS.



1. Free

Open source LMSs are free, that is, the initial setup is free. You can install additional features and customize your LMS as per your needs.

2. Easy to Install and Use

You can easily download and install an open source LMS completely on your own.

3. Easily Customizable

Customization is also very easy with an open source LMS. You can access the source code and add any kind of feature you want in order to personalize and brand your courses, as well as to fix any potential bugs.


1. Plenty of Hidden Costs

Don’t be fooled by the price tag that says “free”. There are a lot of hidden costs when it comes to open source LMSs, and those include fees concerning hosting, upgrade, licensing, customization, and maintenance, as well as backups and additional storage space, not to mention tech support and the necessary training that you and your users may need. Not so free after all, right?

2. No Technical Support

With an open source LMS, you don’t get technical support, so what are you going to do when a problem occurs? You need to have experts in the field who can always be available to fix any potential issue, which also comes with additional costs.

3. Poor Security and Privacy Controls

More often than not, there are no built-in security and privacy controls when it comes to open source LMSs. You would have to invest a lot in security in order to make sure that your data is safe, not to mention that your and your users’ personal information is not stolen or misused.

Which One Is Better?

Open source LMSs can be a good solution for some educational institutions, while they may carry a certain number of risks when it comes to businesses. When all the pros and cons are weighed, cloud-based LMSs seem to be a much better choice for every organization, especially for businesses. Don’t forget that the aforementioned disadvantages of using cloud-based LMSs can be completely avoided, which is definitely not the case when it comes to open source LMSs.

According to the Capterra survey, 87% of respondents said they use a cloud-based LMS. 66% of users said they have switched to a different LMS because the previous one lacked the features they needed, which shows that customization is placed very high on the list of LMS priorities.

Author Bio: Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education. He has 7+ years of experience working with  ProProfs LMS Software and other eLearning authoring tools, which has given him a hands-on experience of the latest course authoring software and an exclusive insight into the eLearning industry.

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