This week began with a bang as the acquisition of Revolution Analytics by Microsoft became official. Revolution Analytics is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft and the Revolution Analytics team are now Microsoft employees.
In an official blog post Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President of Information Management & Machine Learning at Microsoft said that, “Moving forward, we will build R and Revolution’s technology into our data platform products so companies, developers and data scientists can use it across on-premises, hybrid cloud and Azure public cloud environments. In addition, we will integrate Revolution’s scalable R distribution into Azure HDInsight and Azure Machine Learning, making it much easier and faster to analyze big data, and to operationalize R code for production applications. We will also continue to support running Revolution R Enterprise across heterogeneous platforms including Linux, Teradata and Hadoop deployments. No matter where their data lives, customers and partners will be able to take advantage of R more quickly, simply and cost effectively than ever before.”
Many from the industry were wary of this alliance when it was first announced early this year and wondered if Microsoft had enough synergy with Revolution analytics to carry off the collaboration. In response to the skepticism David Smith, Chief Community Officer at Revolution analytics said that Microsoft had made great strides in the open-source arena recently. They have embraced Linux as a fully-supported operating system on its Azure cloud service they support Hadoop with Azure HDInsight and have even partnered with Hortonworks to extend open-source Hadoop for the enterprise. They have also actively been participating in many other open source projects, too. And most importantly Microsoft is a big user of R. “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 extensively within the Azure ML framework, including the ability to experiment and operationalize workflows consisting of R scripts in MLStudio.” Says David Smith.
We asked Gaurav Vohra, CEO, Jigsaw Academy for his thoughts on this acquisition and here is what he had to say:
“Revolution R has been enjoying a fair bit of success in the last few years. Many organizations have started using their services and we at Jigsaw have been involved in multiple Big Data with R trainings for corporate users.
Revolution provided a good bridge between open source and paid analytics tools, and their offerings had a lot of appeal for small and medium enterprises who were looking for a SAS alternative. Will Microsoft continue the same approach going forward? Or will they try to bring in monopolistic pricing practices that they are known for in the software industry.
Revolution was also doing a good job of leveraging crowdsourcing for development of R, enabling newer and better R packages. Will it be in Microsoft’s interest to continue this? There is genuine anxiety in the industry. We can only wait and watch”.
Well, it’s true. The industry has to wait and see how the next few crucial months unfold. R has been very vital to the Analytics and Big Data industry and has enabled several organizations to become data savvy. It’s hoped that this acquisition will bring smarter offerings to the market, enabling a wider reach of open source tools to those who believe that data insights are vital to their business.