Project Cauã: Vertical Market Definition

Jon

Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Feb 22, 2010 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

Several months ago in the printed issue of LinuxProMagazine I wrote an article about Project Cauã (www.projectcaua.org), a project that I had initiated, and several people have joined, with goals of:

  • Creating millions of new, high-tech, private-sector jobs throughout the world;
  • Make computing much easier and cost-effective;
  • Significantly reducing the use of electrical power and other environmental impacts of computers;
  • Bringing digital inclusion to under-served populations in urban areas;

and do all of this with private-sector money, not government spending.

While these are very high goals to achieve, even if a fraction of the goals are realized the project will be worthwhile. And of course all of this will be done with Free Software.

Rather than waste time and space in explaining everything about Project Cauã here, you can go to the project web site and download a complete description of the projects goals and the methods we intend on using to achieve them. The current Project Description (V1.4.0) is only in English, but there are complete Portuguese and Spanish editions arriving in a week or so. Likewise there are videos on the "ProjectCaua" YouTube channel that have both English and Portuguese closed captioning (Spanish is coming) and tell about the goals of Project Cauã.

Today we would like to discuss, and get your opinion, on Vertical Markets for Project Cauã.

A "horizontal" product or feature is something that "everyone" uses on a computer. The operating system, networking code, web browsers, system maintenance tools, etc. all tend to be considered "horizontal". These days "database engines" like MySQL or PostgreSQL are omnipresent enough to be considered a "horizontal".

A "vertical" is a market like "Health Care", "Finance", "Retail", "Home Automation", "Hospitality" (Restaurant, Hotel, guest house, Travel Agency), "Real-Estate" and "Point-of-Sale" (POS). As a vertical, each customer tends to share the same type of software (even though there may be various brands of that software). On the other hand, it is very unlikely that "Home Automation" systems would have a "Health Care" application in it, unless it has to do with the best way of applying a band-aide in your home.

Today an "office suite" is almost a "horizontal", but there are many computers that do not have "office suites" on them. "Small and Medium Business" (SMB) with an offshoot known as "Small Office, Home Office" (SoHo) is another "Vertical" that has "Horizontal" characteristics.

Project Cauã is based on developing a complete suite of Free Software that will meet the needs of one or more of these vertical markets, and applying the best techniques of "cloud" computing to allow end users to use that software through thin clients and server systems. By picking vertical markets where there would be a high demand for a number of thin clients running this software, we can create a job center for a systems administrator, who would provide a service in maintaining this software and system. Project Cauã might deliver an ISO image for each vertical market so the systems administrator could install this vertical market software for their end users. Examples of this are projects like "Ubuntu Studio" and "64 Studio" in the multimedia space.

Currently we have been thinking about four vertical markets: Home Automation, "Hospitality", "SMB" and "POS". There are elements of Free Software that address these vertical markets to a certain extent, and we discuss the needs of these verticals in the Project Description.

But Project Cauã is a Free Software Community Project, and as such we look to the community to help define other possible vertical markets that:

  • would work well in a server/thin-client configuration where the thin clients were hardwired to the server (for example a tall apartment building, or a large office building filled with small companies who could share the server).
  • would tend to have almost the same software functionality for a large number of thin clients (i.e. there might be some additional software used by a few thin clients)

While I was writing this blog, the term "Call Center" came into my head, and I recognized that a "call Center" might fit this model rather well, so I am very hopeful that the FOSS community will think of other "verticals" that may have been overlooked until now.

One final note, we have purposely left out "education" from the "verticals". Reasoning that there are already so many fine FOSS projects that are working in the education field, and typically educational facilities already have their own systems administrator or would use student help. Therefore "education" as a vertical would not necessarily create a new job. There is, of course, no reason why Project Cauã base software could not be used for education, but we do not think that a vertical for education meets the needs of Project Cauã.

Readers, please suggest other "verticals" in the comments section of this blog. Please include some reasoning why you think your vertical is a good one, and after a week or so we will tally them up, publish them and go on to the next step which would be defining the requirements of the most interesting and compelling verticals.

Thank you.

Carpe Diem!

Comments

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  • Project Cauã: Vertical Market Definition

    Hi,

    Read the article with interest, this sounds like a great project.

    One vertical market that could fit the bill is medical office management. Frequently you get a group of doctors, dentists, etc. in a single office building, all needing patient tracking and medical records software. One server per building with thin clients per office could do the trick.

    Just a thought,
    alan
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