A quote from SAS's Anne Milley (director of technology product marketing) in the recent NYT article about R has stirred up a bit of controversy on open-source blogs and mailing lists. The quote in question is this:
“We have customers who build engines for aircraft. I am happy they are not using freeware when I get on a jet.”
My remark reflects a key difference between R and SAS, that of support, reliability, and validation. Customers value SAS for many things, including our extensive testing, documentation, 24/7 support, and training. In contrast, the quality of proliferating R packages is varied and uneven, especially in complex analytical modules. Mistakes in these packages can lead to misleading results, even for experienced users.
REvolution Computing provides support and validation services for R so that it can be used in environments where reliability and quality must be assured -- I'll have more to say about that in a subsequent post. But for now I'd like to focus on the narrow aspect of the aforementioned "proliferating R packages".