May 5, 2014

A ‘Revolution’ for Open Source R Support

Alex Woodie
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Revolution Analytics today debuted AdviseR, a new services offering for data scientists who need a little help coding in R. For $795 per person per year, R coders can get access to Revolution’s R experts and knowledgebase, providing a guiding hand for everything from installing R to optimizing R programs.

R has blossomed into the language for doing hardcore data science. When it comes to writing programs to perform advanced analytics, linear and non-linear modeling, forecasting, classification, clustering, statistical functions, and time-series analysis, R is what the smartest and highest paid data scientists in the world often use.

Revolution Analytics is riding the R wave with Revolution R Enterprise, a software package that provides proprietary extensions on top of R to boost the language’s development and integration in a big data setting. The software also enables R applications to run in parallel on big data iron, such as Teradata appliances and Hadoop clusters.

Now, the company is branching out with AdviseR, which is the first of several open source projects planned at the company. David Smith has taken the role of Chief Community Officer to drive these initiatives.

“We’ve been publishing Revolution R Enterprise–the big data enhanced version of R– for seven years,” he says. “But there are another two million users out there using open source R, and we wanted to find out a way to support those users as well.”revolution analytics logo

Through AdviseR, the company is providing technical support via phone and email from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the subscriber’s time zone The company maintains technical support professionals in North America, Europe, and Singapore, providing coverage anywhere on the globe.

The AdviseR technical support program will be most beneficial to new R users, Smith says. “A lot of people struggle with relatively simple things, such as how do I access my data, how do I access databases and data sources, and how do I restructure and manipulate my data for analysis,” Smith says. “This is something our team has a lot of experience in.”

While R newbies might benefit the most, there’s something here for R veterans too. “Errors coming from R can be a bit confusing,” Smith says. “So if you have a strange error coming from your code, our team can help you diagnosis that and help you work out the problem. And in the rare case, that somebody comes across a bug in R itself, they can help the user work around the bug, and we can work with the R core group to get that bug fixed.”

The open source nature of R is a double-edge sword. On the one hand, there are plenty of R resources available on the Web. But sometimes, it’s nice to have somebody with experience who can guide you along. Enterprises, especially, are traditionally loathe to adopt technologies that do not have established support organizations behind them–hence the rise of the commercial open source software model.

Stephen O’Grady, principal analyst at RedMonk, says AdviseR will find a receptive market. “Between the high levels of usage amongst today’s data scientists and the popularity of R within the academic space, adoption of open source R within the enterprise is exploding,” O’Grady says in a press release. “But enterprises require robust, commercial support for the software they deploy, and this is what Revolution Analytics is built to provide.”

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