Microsoft Completes Acquisition of Revolution Analytics

The move is expected to enhance Microsoft's big data analytics and machine learning capabilities in the cloud while maintaining Revolution's open-source roots.

big data

It's a done deal. Microsoft on April 6 said it had closed on its acquisition of Revolution Analytics. The financial terms of the transaction, which was first announced in February, were not disclosed.

Revolution Analytics is an R programming language specialist based in Mountain View, Calif. "R is the world's most popular programming language for statistical computing and predictive analytics, used by more than 2 million people worldwide," noted Microsoft's Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president of the software giant's Information Management and Machine Learning division, in a statement.

"Revolution has made R enterprise-ready with speed and scalability for the largest data warehouses and Hadoop systems," continued Sirosh, highlighting two of the most desirable traits in Microsoft's efforts to build an enterprise-grade big data analytics ecosystem based on its rapidly expanding Azure cloud computing platform.

Sirosh used the announcement as an opportunity to rib a Microsoft rival in the business analytics space. "With its unique parallel external memory algorithms, Revolution R Enterprise is able to deliver speeds 42 times faster than competing technology from SAS," he said.

Microsoft plans to add R to SQL Server, enabling in-database analytics in on-premises, Azure or hybrid implementations of the technology. Sirosh added that his company will also "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."

Current users will remain unaffected. "We will also continue to support running Revolution R Enterprise across heterogeneous platforms including Linux, Teradata and Hadoop deployments," Sirosh said, reiterating comments from David Smith, chief community officer for Revolution Analytics.

"As we mentioned back in January, nothing much will change for our customers and community," wrote Smith in a blog post. "We'll continue to support and develop the Revolution R family of products—including on non-Windows platforms like Mac and Linux."

Microsoft also remains committed to Revolution's open-source initiatives, said Sirosh. The company plans to "support and amplify" the Revolution R Open distribution, ParallelR, Rhadoop and DeployR, among other projects.

In a letter to the Revolution Analytics community, Dave Rich, former CEO of Revolution and now the general manager of Advanced Analytics at Microsoft, joined industry watchers in claiming that the deal reflects the mainstreaming of big data analytics.

Today's tech-savvy executives and the workforces they manage are hungry for predictive and prescriptive analytics solutions, he argued. "The broader wave of change that I see maturing is the delivery of true data-driven decision-making to everyone: in every industry and business domain, in companies big and small," he wrote.

As it happens, Microsoft fits the bill by virtue of its massive reach and expansive technology portfolio. "Like previous enterprise 'management waves,' 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," stated Rich. "All Microsoft needed was a bridge to crowd-sourced innovation on the advanced analytics algorithms and tools powering results from Big Data."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...