It may seem a tad unusual for a commercial giant like Microsoft to acquire an open-source company, but the computer behemoth has just announced precisely that: last week, it acquired open-source analytics firm, Revolution Analytics.
Founded in 2007, Revolution has focussed heavily on the enormously popular R programming language for statistical computing. Given the fact that the sheer volume of digital content out there is now measured in exabytes (that’s 1 followed by 18 zeros), referring to it as “Big Data” now seems like an understatement. Microsoft says that it bought the company “to help more companies use the power of R and data science to unlock big data insights with advanced analytics.”
No one beyond Microsoft and Revolution Analytics knows the financial details of the transaction as both firms are remaining tight-lipped about it. We do know that Revolution Analytics has raised $28 million since it was founded, however. It offers a raft of R language-based tools for free but makes a charge for indemnification packages, technical support, training and consulting (there’s also an enterprise extension to R and a cloud-based service available through Amazon’s AWS Marketplace on demand).
The move adds to Microsoft’s growing repertoire of business analytics and Big Data services, although it’s not clear at this stage how exactly Revolution’s offerings will be incorporated into them. And, as it happens, Microsoft has been investing pretty heftily in its own open-source initiatives recently, including .NET and a few other projects.
Announcing the deal, Microsoft’s corporate VP for machine learning, Joseph Sirosh, wrote:
“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, we will empower enterprises, R developers and data scientists to more easily and cost-effectively build applications and analytics solutions at scale.”
Existing customers of Revolution Analytics will, the company said, continue to receive its current product line-up, adding “nothing will change with the acquisition.” It currently supports around 150 R user groups, contributing also to other open-source projects like RHadoop and ParallelR, which it will probably continue to do post-acquisition.
There’s a galaxy of data out there. Microsoft just made the task of analysing it a little more accessible.