Vendor that utilises NZ-developed tech pushes ahead

Revolution Analytics, which uses Auckland University-developed R, re-launches

A company focused on R, the open-source language for statistical analysis, has relaunched itself and given a preview of its technology roadmap for 2010.

Revolution Analytics, formerly known as Revolution Computing, is headed by CEO Norman Nie, co-founder of predictive analytics vendor SPSS. R co-creator Robert Gentleman sits on its board.

R was initially created by Ross Ihaka and Gentleman at the University of Auckland. It now boasts a thriving community, and a large body of add-on packages have been created for the core toolset.

Hoping to gain a stronger foothold at the grassroots level, the company is now offering a single workstation license of Revolution R Enterprise at no cost to academic users, although costs would kick in if they desire support. It is also launching a portal, inside-R.org, for R advocates and users.

Its product releases for the remainder of 2010 will include technology for processing very large data sets; an easier-to-use, web-based user interface aimed at business analysts, not programmers; and new services and products for helping customers migrate over to R.

The company is also planning to form many partnerships with BI (business intelligence) and database vendors, according to chief operating officer Jeff Erhardt. Also, "everything we're building is in a cloud-ready form", Erhardt added. "As we move forward, [customers] will be able to do cloud implementations."

IBM and SAS have both moved to support R in their own statistical-analysis platforms.

The company's software is priced "aggressively" versus IBM and SAS, Revolution Analytics says.

However, Revolution Analytics faces a tough challenge from those larger vendors, as well as the likes of XLSolutions, which offers R training and a competing software package, R-Plus.

The integration of SAS Institute's technology with various MPP (massively parallel processing) databases, for example, "promises to be very powerful, scalable, and functional, once it is fully available," says analyst Curt Monash of Monash Research. "It's hard to see how a start-up -- even an R-based one -- could offer better technology."

However, that's not to say it has no chance, Monash says.

"It's easy to see how an alternative could be much less expensive, yet still get the work done," he says.

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Tags Revolution AnalyticsRobert GentlemanRoss IhakaR

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