Microsoft has acquired Revolution Analytics, which develops R-based predictive analytics solutions in the big data market.

"Revolution Analytics provides an enterprise-class platform for the development and deployment of R-based analytic solutions that can scale across large data warehouses and Hadoop systems, and can integrate with enterprise systems," wrote Joseph Sirosh, corporate vice president, Machine Learning, Microsoft Corp., in a blog announcing the deal.

The deal will empower Microsoft customers to use "advanced analytics within Microsoft data platforms on-premises, in hybrid cloud environments and on Microsoft Azure," Sirosh added.

Revolution Analytics has been very active in the open source world -- where Microsoft has a mixed reputation. During the early days of Linux, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer called the community built operating system a "cancer" that threatened the way software is written and licensed. But gradually under Ballmer, Microsoft opened up to open source. And the open source commitment has accelerated under current CEO Satya Nadella -- who shifted the .Net platform to an open source approach.

Under Microsoft's ownership, Revolution Analytics will have more financial resources to invest even more in the R Project and the Revolution R products, along with various community efforts, according to a blog from Revolution Analytics Chief Community Officer David Smith.

Countering IBM, Oracle

Still, the Microsoft-Revolution Analytics deal has implications that go far beyond open source. For chief data officers (CDOs), Microsoft wants to prove that its on-premises, hybrid and public cloud offerings have comprehensive big data capabilities -- no matter where the data scientist or end-user sits.

IT giants like Oracle and IBM have been bulstering and rewriting their on-premises databases and analytics applications to run in the cloud. IBM, for instance, claims it now generates roughly $17 billion annually from analytics sales -- spanning cloud, on-premises software and the underlying hardware.

For its part, Microsoft is widely seen as the closest competitor to Amazon Web Services in the public cloud market. Acquiring Revolution Analytics could help Microsoft to push further beyond traditional IaaS (infrastructure as a service) offerings, giving chief data officers anywhere, anytime access to a growing portfolio of big data capabilities.

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