One of the few remaining hurdles when working with R in the enterprise is consistent access to CRAN. Often desktop class systems will have unrestricted access while server systems might not have any access at all.
This inconsistency often stems from security concerns about allowing servers access to the internet. There have been many different approaches to solving this problem, with some organisations reluctantly allowing outbound access to CRAN, some rolling their own internal CRAN-like repositories, and others installing a fixed set of packages and leaving it at that.
Fig 1. Access to public CRAN from multiple sources can be a security and compliance headache
Fortunately, this problem may now be a thing of the past. Yesterday RStudio announced a new software tool called “Package Manager” that provides a single, on-premise, CRAN-like interface that can provide access to CRAN, your organisations own internal packages, or a combination of the two all in a unified system.
RStudio Package Manager (RSPM) removes the need for IT teams to whitelist external access to CRAN from all of their R servers. Now, just a single system requires external access to a carefully managed CRAN mirror built specifically for this purpose. Internal systems can now connect to this single, internal package repository instead of to ad-hoc mirrors. Desktop and laptop users can connect to it too, providing a unified package management experience.
Fig 2. RStudio Package Manager simplifies CRAN access and reduces risk
Further, RSPM can be used to publish internal packages as well, and even supports hosting multiple repositories, which can be useful for different groups within the business.
Mango have been using RSPM and providing feedback on it since the earliest private beta stage and have already provided support around it to a small number of other beta customers. That, combined with our long R heritage and deep roots in the R and enterprise ecosystems means we’re well placed to help others on their enterprise R journey.
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