Joseph Sirosh the Corporate Vice President, Machine Learning, Microsoft and David Smith, Chief Community Officer at Revolution Analytics recently announced that the two companies had reached an agreement and that Microsoft would acquire Revolution Analytics, a leading commercial provider of software and services for ‘R’. The acquisition amount has not yet been made public though. This comes just a few days after Microsoft showcasedWindows 10 and their holographic technology, among other things.
What is R?
R is one of the world’s most widely used programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics. It is taught in universities and deployed in mission critical business applications. It’s also the # 1 choice of data scientists and supported by a community of contributors.
Revolution Analytics provides an enterprise-class platform for the development and deployment of R-based analytic solutions that can scale across large data warehouses and Hadoop systems, and can integrate with enterprise systems. Its Revolution R product line, combined with its advisory services and training, help people and companies realize the potential of big data using sound statistical, scientific methodologies. Top customers include some of the world’s largest banks and financial services organizations, pharmaceutical companies, consulting services organizations, manufacturing and technology companies.
Revolution Analytics is also an important part of the vibrant R community of over 2 million users worldwide. The company regularly contributes to open source R projects such as ParallelR, and RHadoop, and helps support 150+ R user groups across the world.
“We are making this acquisition to help more companies use the power of R and data science to unlock big data insights with advanced analytics.” says Joseph Sirosh.
Use Cases of statistical computing and predictive analytics
Microsoft used R to develop the match-making capabilities of the Xbox online gaming service. It’s the tool of choice for data scientists at Microsoft, who apply machine learning to data from Bing, Azure, Office, and the Sales, Marketing and Finance departments. Microsoft supports R within the Azure ML framework, including the ability to experiment and operationalize workflows consisting of R scripts in MLStudio.
As the volumes of data continually grow, organizations of all kinds around the world – financial, manufacturing, health care, retail, research – need powerful analytical models to make data-driven decisions. This requires high performance computation that is “close” to the data, and scales with the business’ needs over time. At the same time, companies need to reduce the data science and analytics skills gap inside their organizations, so that more employees can use and benefit from R. This acquisition is part of Microsoft’s effort to address these customer needs.
Microsoft’s tryst with Open Source
“Now, Microsoft might seem like a strange bedfellow for an open-source company, but the company continues to make great strides in the open-source arena.” says David Smith, Chief Community Officer of Revolution Analytics.
“We are excited to help foster the open source evolution of R and, particularly, the community of people that drives that evolution.” says Joseph. Microsoft will continue to support and evolve both open source and commercial distributions of Revolution R across multiple operating systems. This builds on Microsoft’s existing participation in open source, such as contributions to projects like Hive, YARN, REEF and others in the Apache Hadoop community. Microsoft embraced Linux as a fully-supported operating system on its Azure cloud service. CEO Satya Nadella proclaimed “Microsoft loves Linux” in foot-high letters at a press event back in October 2014.
Microsoft supports Hadoop with Azure HDInsight and has partnered with Hortonworks to extend open-source Hadoop for the enterprise. The .NET Core is now open-source, providing an alternative developer framework to Java. There are over 1,600 OSS projects from Microsoft on CodePlex and GitHub. Microsoft engineers have also actively contributed to the Linux kernel for years.
“As a data scientist and longtime R enthusiast, I am incredibly excited about Revolution Analytics technology and employees joining Microsoft.” concluded Joseph.
What’s in it for Microsoft
This acquisition will help customers use advanced analytics within Microsoft data platforms on-premises, in hybrid cloud environments and on Microsoft Azure. By leveraging Revolution Analytics technology and services, they are aiming to empower enterprises, R developers and data scientists to more easily and cost effectively build applications and analytics solutions at scale.
What’s in it for Revolution Analytics
Through the acquisition, Revolution R will come to a wider audience through Microsoft. The combined teams will be able to help more users use advanced analytics within Microsoft data platform solutions, both on-premises and in the cloud with Microsoft Azure. Microsoft’s resoruces will allow them to invest more in the R Project and the Revolution R products.
Revolution Analytics will continue to sponsor local R user groups and R events, and expand their support for community initiatives. They will also have more resources behind their open-source R projects including RHadoop, DeployR and the Reproducible R Toolkit and be able to add further enhancements and bring R capabilities to the Microsoft suite of products.
For their users and customers, nothing much will change with the acquisition. They will continue to support and develop the Revolution R family of products — including non-Windows platforms like Mac and Linux. The free Revolution R Open project will continue to enhance open source R. They will continue to advance the big data and enterprise integration capabilities of Revolution R Enterprise and continue to offer expert technical training and consulting services.