Revolution Analytics announced on January 23, 2015, that they were acquired by Microsoft. This is bad news for Linux stack customers.
First, the positives. This could spur the development of an open source stack that provides the equivalent functionality of Revolution Analytics. Better, Microsoft could make the code they purchased publicly available so this open source effort can be immediately forked to provide bootstrap to the open-source initiative.
And the negatives…it’s bad news for Linux stack customers.
Customer first? No way. Are prices going to decrease? Doubtful. Is the technical support model going to stay efficient and friendly? Doubtful. Pity to the poor contract managers in companies who are Linux stack who now have to negotiate with Microsoft. The timing is negative for Big Data for the Enterprise in R.
Possibly the worst outcome is that Microsoft will spike the Linux distributions of Revolutions Analytics software. Not further develop in Linux and maybe sell the code eventually, focusing development solely on Windows distributions in the meantime. It’d be a competitive advantage for them to do so. But, there is time. Revolution Analytics software is well developed as far as what it can do and the value it can add. It works and is solid. Customers can use the releases already in the pipeline to take a wait and see approach and to start thinking about a transition to other software.
A big winner in this acquisition is the Microsoft stack customer base as they are sure to receive integration of the code into their stack. Microsoft missed the first few years of the shift to analytics and this acquisition is one way to meet expectations and needs of their customers. The Python community will benefit as Big Data for the Enterprise in R starts to consider alternatives. (I don’t think the open source R community will notice or be impacted.)
This is Microsoft’s to lose. They have a culture of software that doesn’t play well with others and that gets dysfunctional over time. They have a history of hating Linux, which, admittedly, they are in the process of trying to change. I just don’t see how they can do a good job with Linux-based, analytics software. The best thing Microsoft can do is treat the Linux distributions of Revolution Analytics software as a first-class citizen and then maybe this can work. They have to be fair to Linux stack customers. To continue to attract companies to Big Data in the Enterprise with R, they have to be transparent and open about their intentions.