The SWOT Analysis is a tool to provide a self assessment of a project/organization/venture that provides useful output to help on the strategical planning of the very same project/organization/venture. This was the very first challenge I proposed myself when I joined Fedora Marketing Group. I've chosen to do this for several reasons, being by far the most important of them the fact that I wanted to understand the project.
The subject of this document is the Fedora Project as a community that produces a product known as Fedora Linux, one of the most known Linux distributions available for several audiences, from Linux enthusiasts to Software Engineering Professionals, from students to power productivity users, and everyone else who wants to give it a go as an alternative to proprietary software available from several companies.
To better understand the Fedora Project it is recommended to understand the 4 Fedora Foundations, which provide the basis of the Fedora Project identity. Another relevant document to understand the Fedora Project is the current developing version of the Fedora Marketing Plan which presents interesting information regarding several factors of the Fedora Project, some of this interest factors are:
There are other interesting factors that are introduced in the Fedora Marketing Plan, but I will focus only on the three mentioned above because they are the most complete and relevant for the upcoming contents displayed on this document.
This document is composed of the following sections:
- Introduction - A small introduction to the document and the topics to that compose the same.
- Internal Environment Analysis - An analysis to the Internal Environment of the Fedora Project which consists on highlighting and understanding a set of key factors that can be fully controllable by the Fedora Project and that will qualify as Weaknesses and Strengths. This factors are to be selected as a self-assessment of the project and will be evaluated under a methodology explained later.
- External Analysis - An analysis of the External Environment of the Fedora Project which will provide a set of key factors, those that can not be in any way controlled by the Fedora Project and that might act as Opportunities or Threats to the project. They will be evaluated under four factors (Economy, Social/Demographic, Politic/Legal and Technological) that will be introduced later on.
- Analysis and Proposals for Action - The last part of the document will be an analysis from the SWOT itself (including Matrix) with a set of proposals for action to correct the possible points that might require immediate action from the Fedora Project.
- Critical Factors for Success & Critical Comparative Analysis - This points might not qualify for a typical SWOT Analysis, but they are of relevance and they should be present in this case, therefore I've taken the liberty of introducing them on this document.
A SWOT Analysis is often divided in two different analysis, both very important for the strategical planning.
- External Environment - This will define the Threats and Opportunities of the Project and none of this factors can be controlled by the management, or in this case the Fedora Project. The External Environment is based on the following factors:
- Demographic/Social Factors - An analysis based on social and demographic factors. Given the nature of the Fedora Project it is also important to look at geographical data.
- Technological Factors - The technological factors in the Industry.
- Politic/Legal Factors - Legal and Politic factors. Factors like licensing and legislation are contemplated here.
- Economical Factors - The economical factors.
- Internal Environment - The internal environment provides the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Fedora Project. All this factors can be controlled by the Fedora Project and they are being evaluated according to:
- Men - Defines factors related to manpower, this includes contributors, enthusiasts, audience that is involved with Fedora, payed contributors and sponsorship in operational fields.
- Measures - The course of action taken to achieve the goals proposed, highly theoretical.
- Means - The operational field that implements measures on the operational theatre.
- Machines - The intellectual capital and physical support used to produce Fedora Linux, including infra-structure which is shared with other points.
- Methods - The methods used to weight measures and means.
The SWOT Analysis should provide information helpful in evaluating the Project's resources and capabilities to the competitive environment in which it operates. This is a instrumental resource in strategy formulation and selection.
The Internal Environment Analysis is a self assessment of the Fedora Project based on all the factors that the Fedora Project can control directly. From this Analysis we will identify factors that will classified under Strengths or Weaknesses. This factors are to be taken into consideration related to the following aspects:
- Quality and Management
- Performance / Performance Improvements
For the Internal Environment Analysis we will take into consideration the following:
- There is a product called Fedora Linux;
- Infra-structure (physical and intellectual) for this analysis is a part of the 'product' Fedora Linux;
- The group of people, sponsors, contributors, enthusiasts, etc, behind the 'product' Fedora Linux is the Fedora Community;
- The audience is defined by the information on Fedora's Marketing Plan.
Men; manpower related (no gender discrimination). This are The Fedora Project strong factors when it comes to manpower.
Red Hat Inc., the main sponsor of The Fedora Project allocates resources to the Fedora Project from their own staff. This is a very positive factor for the Fedora Project as it can deploy in the industry new technology which otherwise would be harder to achieve. The symbiotic relation between Red Hat Inc. and the Fedora Project is one of the factors which strongly contribute to the First Foundation of the Fedora Project. It is also important to mention that most projects that are represented on Fedora Linux also might have contributions that share this charactristic (ex: linux kernel, GNOME, KDE). This contributions are important to the current status of many FOSS projects, including Fedora, and represent a strength within the Project Fedora, specially the contributions sponsored by Red Hat.
The Fedora Project has thousands of volunteer contributors working in several tasks. Everyday thousands of people contribute actively for several sub-projects of Fedora with thousands of hours of dedicated work to make Fedora Linux happen and keep the community growing. Many sub-projects are daily maintained by this people. This is the real muscle of the Fedora Project and the real life force behind it, the Fedora's contributors.
The Bazaar Model
Robyn Bergeron introduced me once with The Cathedral and the Bazaar. The model described in the Bazaar is outstanding. The proof that the most sceptic would require are long given. In a matter of manpower this model provides an outstanding solution to fast and feature rich development. This is without doubt the element that solved the manpower problem for many applications, and still does. We should not underestimate the Cathedral building. The Fedora Project Marketing Plan also mentions something interesting: general productivity user. This productivity user is usually something hard to decode. If this user is not computer friendly or Linux enthusiast the Bazaar Model sometimes might fail. A lot is around this "general productivity user" which at some point might be complicated for the Bazaar Model to handle.
The Fedora Project Marketing Team is responsible for many positive sinergies around the Fedora Project, namely on the Promotion (see [https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Marketing/SWOT#Promotion Promotion - Marketing Mix) of the Fedora Project. The Fedora Project Marketing Team also has a very special strategical position working many times as a bridge between different teams and placing a special efforts on Ambassadorial Campaigns and Events.
The L10N Project is responsible for translation and localization of Fedora Linux and Fedora Infra-Structure for at least 40 different languages worldwide. The contributions on this area are a Critical Factor for Success, and despite many times the work from this contributors remains un-noticed by the wider audiences, they provide one of the most important strategical factors for user base increase and market penetration.
The Ambassadors initiative aims to deploy first line Public Relations and promote the Fedora Project amongst it's established and potential audiences. It is unclear how goals are defined and evaluated from my perspective as they seem to operate in a very closed group on a fully armoured structure. The work developed by Ambassadors in many fields, specially on event production and promotion is to be pointed as a strength and a critical factor for success (discussed on Critical Factors for Success more in-depth).
Events (FAD's, FUDCon's, etc)
The ammount of events where the fedoraproject itself or Individuals are present.
Free Media Program
Public Mirror System
Machines; These should be faced as every tool used to produce something in the Fedora Project.
My approach to sponsorship is generic, it is widely known that Red Hat Inc. is the official sponsor of the Fedora Project. But in the scope of this SWOT Analysis I would like also to keep an importance on the following:
- Red Hat Inc; The main sponsor of the Fedora Project and Industry leader. This creates very good synergies and energies on the Fedora Community. Considering symbiotic bond between Red Hat and the Fedora Project it is realistic to say that Fedora Linux has high notoriety and recognized value by the target audiences (defined in the Marketing Plan).
- Hosting sponsors; This sponsorship is important not only for the Community Infra-Structure but also for the free circulation of contents throughout several communities and FOSS projects. I would also like to mention that official Fedora Mirrors should also be contemplated as hosting sponsors. All together they deploy not only the Fedora Community infra-structure but also enable a powerful distribution channel for Fedora Linux.
- Mirrors: To all the local and international mirrors which allow such a great distribution channel.
- Human; Every single person that donates a part of their personal time to the Fedora Project.
It is through a wide set of sponsorships measurable in value and volume that the Fedora Project strives for providing a technological leading Linux distribution. Through this sponsorships I believe that most people will find the two human pillars of Fedora, Freedom and Friends.
The Fedora Project provides a large infrastructure to support it's community, which can actually be measured in value and volume. If we take into consideration the following:
- Community: The infrastruture oriented for the community. This includes example like Planet, wiki, IRC, logistics, etc.
- Fedora Project - FAS, Transifex, git, etc. All the technological platforms that are online with the goal of producing Fedora Linux.
Lack of Contributors
Critical Factors for Success
- Voluntary Linux Consumer - Though the Fedora Project defines clear positioning and diferentiation, this might not be clear to all users specially because the promotion lacks of many details regarding about this. To successfully increase penetration rates amongst this users it is imperative that positioning and diferentiation is a part of the message, this can be done through comparative advertisement or using a more subtile approach. Though the Fedora Foundations provide good information regarding positioning and diferentiation (and considering that Fedora Linux inherits the notoriety of Red Hat as a part of it own), First and Features might not be enough to translate the correct message about it's positioning and diferentiation.
On one of my first approaches to the Fedora Project, I was told that other FOSS communities like openSuSE and Ubuntu were 'friends' sharing work for the same goal, FOSS. It is unclear to me on how to perform this goal without facing other distributions as competitors. This is a reachonable goal, but this specific segment demands Fedora Linux to engage other distributions as competitors and 'battle' for this so called Voluntary Linux Consumer.
- Computer Friendly - In most cases this computer friendly concept applied to a Linux user will be deeply related to other kinds of users, for example the Voluntary Linux Consumer. It is vague enough to provide acceptable results if correctly approached and promoted to this audiences.
- Potential Collaborator - This segment can be faced as a sub-segment of any of the other segments presented by the Fedora Project. This is interesting as it denotes the need of the Fedora Project to become self-sustainable based on it's users. If enough efforts are placed on this field to provide easy ramps to the Fedora Project, either by Ambassadorial work or Team oriented, virtually any Fedora user can become a potential contributor in any of the sub-projects provided by the Fedora Project. Once more it's a reachable and realistic goal.
- General Productivity User - The Fedora Project presents this segment as an uncomplicated and too vague segment. I find this therm misleading and can be harmful in the future.
This topic, the future user base displays 4 segments of Community that are deeply inter-connected between themselfs, and in most cases can through one you can fulfil others. From the strategical point of view this segments are so close to each other in some cases that merging them into one could actually provide a better effort to rally methods and means to successfully hit that audience with the correct promotion.
Value Perception by the User
The Fedora Project inherits much of the notoriety of it's sponsor Red Hat Inc., and it's generally faced with confort from the audiences it targets. The reputation of Fedora Linux and Fedora Project amongst their user base can be generally understood as a excellent.
Channels of Distribution
For any organization to deploy it's products successfully it requires good channels of distribution. In this field the Fedora Project's efforts have been worderfull and everything just works, on either providing software DVD/CD ISO's and also as deploying improvements and software updates.
- Online Software Repositories >
- (RPMFusion >) // not directly a Fedora Project, but indiretly
- Public Mirrors Network >
- Free Media Program >
- P2P Networks > //not influenced by Fedoraproject
- User Sharing >
- Other (e.g. archive.org, etc.) >
Availability of Legal Department
General Public Licence
Free Software Foundation
Internet Penetration Rates
Red Hat Inc.
Product Available for Free
Channels of Distribution =
Interaction with other FOSS Communities
Patent Free Software
Interaction with Hardware Manufacturers
Interaction with Industry Leaders
Lack of Information
User Base increase by competitors
Red Hat Inc.
Interaction with Hardware Manufacturers
Fedora and Ubuntu
Fedora and openSuSE
Fedora and Debian
Fedora and Slackware
Fedora and Arch Linux
Analysis and Proposals for Action
For this document we will use the "4 Ps" methodology for the Marketing Mix analysis. Currently new theories have developed new methodologies in this field that can push the original "4 Ps" up to 11 Ps and in one particular to 15 Ps. I am not aware on the current Academy decisions on this field, so I'm going to use the very basic approach of the 4Ps.