Microsoft acquires firm dedicated to building on open-source code

Microsoft Corp. is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to embracing the open-source community and acquiring Mountain View, Calif.-based Revolution Analytics.

Since Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella took the helm, he has been talking about turning a new leaf at the software maker that had a brand synonymous with proprietary code. Microsoft is opening up, he proclaimed at an October press event. Nadella even said that Microsoft loves Linux, the open-source platform that it has long competed with in the server space. Now in acquiring Revolution Analytics, it’s picking up a large commercial contributor to open-source programming language ‘R’, used for statistical analysis and predictive analytics.

Microsoft and Revolution Analytics announced the news in blog posts on their respective sites. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed by either party.

“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,” writes Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice-president of machine learning at Microsoft. “Revolution Analytics provides an enterprise-class platform for the development and deployment of R-based analytics solutions that can scale across large data warehouses and Hadoop systems, and can integrate with enterprise systems.”

On the Revolution Analytics blog, chief community officer David Smith acknowledges that “Microsoft might seem like a strange bedfellow for an open-source company.” But points to Microsoft’s participation in other open source projects and work on the Linux kernel. Plus, Microsoft is no stranger to programming with R.

“Microsoft used R to develop the match-making capabilities of the Xbox online gaming service,” Smith writes. “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.”

Revolution Analytics plans to continue to invest in the R Project and sponsor local R user groups and events, and put even more resources behind its open-source projects. It will continue to support and develop its current line of Revolution R products.

Microsoft customers can expect to see some new R-based tools available to them for both on-premises data platforms and the Azure cloud platform.

No timeline is given by Microsoft for when that will happen, but it promises to issue an update when the acquisition transaction closes.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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