Microsoft Announces R Open and Makes R-Server Free Through Dreamspark

In what could possibly be a major impact to the analytics software industry, Microsoft recently announced a series of products, renaming the Revolution Analytics products, Microsoft R Server. The branding changes the Revolution Analytics brand products to Microsoft R Server and includes the following:

Microsoft R Server for Hadoop on Red Hat
Microsoft R Server for Teradata DB
Microsoft R Server for Red Hat Linux
Microsoft R Server for SuSE Linux

According to Microsoft MSDN, “Microsoft R Server is a fast and cost-effective enterprise-class big data advanced analytics platform supporting a variety of big data statistics, predictive modeling and machine learning capabilities.” Anyone familiar with analytics software will understand the importance of Microsoft’s play. However, true R enthusiasts would be concerned about the openness of R itself.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Microsoft’s strategy could be a game changer in the industry” – Alexander Pelaez, Ph.D. President of Five Element Analytics.

What makes the announcement even more exciting, are the prospects for Microsoft R Open (MRO) formerly known as Revolution R Open (RRO), which extends and enhances the R distribution. Microsoft’s commitment to enhancing R and extending the software’s capabilities makes it a very formidable player in the data analytics space, and could give it a unique advantage over other players.

They also announced plans earlier in 2015 for the integration of R with SQL Server 2016 with built-in advanced analytics, revealing a comprehensive analytics suite strategy. This integration serves to make it easier for existing SQL Server shops to performs high end analytics much easier. Further, with possible future integrations of the popular Microsoft Excel, there is no doubt that the software stack of R, SQL Server and Excel could be quite a bargain for many organizations and a formidable challenge to competitors.

Microsoft commitment is further demonstrated, by their announcement that R server will be freely available to academics and students through the Dreamspark collaboration platform. Making the software more widely available will almost certainly expand the base of users for years to come. It should be an exciting year or two to see where Microsoft takes its R platform.