by Thor Olavsrud

Microsoft closes acquisition of R software and services provider

Apr 06, 20153 mins

Microsoft acquires Revolution Analytics, a commercial provider of services for the open source R programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics.

Microsoft today closed its acquisition of Revolution Analytics, a commercial provider of software and services for the R programming language, making it a wholly owned subsidiary.

“R is the world’s most popular programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics, used by more than 2 million people worldwide,” says Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president of Information Management & Machine Learning at Microsoft.

“Revolution has made R enterprise-ready with speed and scalability for the largest data warehouses and Hadoop systems,” he adds. “For example, by leveraging Intel’s Math Kernel Library (MKL), the freely available Revolution R Open executes a typical R benchmark 2.5 times faster than the standard R distribution and some functions, such as linear regression, run up to 20 times faster. With its parallel external memory algorithms, Revolution R Enterprise is able to deliver speeds 42 times faster than competing technology from SAS.”

[Related: Learn R for Beginners With Our PDF ]

Microsoft announced its plans to acquire Revolution Analytics in January, citing its desire to help use the power of R and data science to unlock insights with advanced analytics.

With the acquisition now closed, Sirosh says Microsoft plans to build R and Revolution’s technology into its data platform products, making it available on-premises, on Azure public cloud environments and in hybrid environments.

[ Related: 60+ R Resources to Improve Your Data Skills ]

“For example, we will build R into SQL Server to provide fast and scalable in-database analytics that can be deployed in an enterprise customer’s datacenter, on Azure or in a hybrid combination,” Sirosh says.

“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 purposes,” Sirosh says. “We will also continue to support running Revolution R Enterprise across heterogeneous platforms including Linux, Teradata and Hadoop deployments. No matter where data lives, customers and partners will be able to take advantage of R more quickly, simply and cost effectively than ever before.”

Open sources loves its R

Sirosh adds that Microsoft considers the active and passionate open source community around R an essential element to the programming language’s success, and it plans to “support and amplify” Revolution’s open source projects, including the Revolution R Open distribution, the ParallelR collection of packages for distributed programming, Rhadoop for running R on Hadoop nodes, DeployR for deploying R analytics in web and dashboard applications, the Reproducible R Toolkit and RevoPemaR for writing parallel external memory algorithms.

Microsoft also plans to continue Revolution’s education and training efforts around R, and Sirosh notes it will leverage its global programs and partner ecosystem to do so.

Revolution Analytics CEO Dave Rich is now general manager of Advanced Analytics at Microsoft.

[Related: Learn to Crunch Big Data with R ]

“The CIO and CDO will need an easy-to-use, integrated platform and a vendor partner who simultaneously understands end-user productivity, cloud computing and data platforms,” Rich says, describing the “Decision Process Engineering” that he sees dominating the next decade. “Who better to deliver this to companies large and small than Microsoft? All Microsoft needed was a bridge to crowd-sourced innovation on the advanced analytics algorithms and tools power results from big data. Who better than Revolution Analytics? Stay tuned. Now it gets interesting.”

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