Microsoft and German business software giant SAP on Oct. 18 announced that the latter's cloud-based human capital management (HCM) software portfolio will soon be available on Azure. The deal marks the first time SAP is supplementing its own infrastructure and running SuccessFactors HCM on a third-party cloud, the companies said.
In the next five years, joint customers will have access to SuccessFactors HCM on Microsoft's public cloud. The partnership "is a reflection of Microsoft's long history of understanding of the enterprise world," Judson Althoff, executive vice president of worldwide commercial business at Microsoft, told eWEEK. "Companies are looking for a cloud that is intelligent, global and trusted. We offer choice and flexibility that is meeting the unique needs of big businesses."
SAP acquired online human resources software provider SuccessFactors in 2012 a deal valued at $3.4 billion. In the years since, SAP has layered additional functionality aimed at helping business leaders and human resource departments manage their workforces with an eye toward enhancing productivity, fostering employee engagement and addressing workplace challenges.
Early this year, SAP added new continuous performance management capabilities to its SuccessFactors Performance & Goals solution, creating ongoing morale-boosting feedback system between managers and their subordinates. In May, the company announced it was tackling workplace bias and gender diversity by enlisting its HANA in-memory computing platform. Using text mining and machine learning techniques, SuccessFactors can help flag biases after analyzing job descriptions, employee performance review and other HR data.
Snapping up SuccessFactors was a good investment, according to SAP SuccessFactors president Mike Ettling. "SAP SuccessFactors has seen exponential growth over the past few years," Ettling told eWEEK.
With 42 million users, and over 5,000 clients, we continue to innovate as we support our customers' journey to the cloud."
SAP selected Microsoft, in part, "to focus on making the coolest, most engaging software in the HR market," added Ettling. It also helps that Microsoft's cloud platform reaches many of the world's biggest companies.
"We wanted a public cloud partner that has deep experience with enterprises and offers a highly scalable environment. Microsoft has focused on scalability and reliability for global, enterprise clients," said Ettling. "These clients are also in our sweet spot, as evidenced by the just-released Gartner Critical Capabilities report for HCM, which names SuccessFactors as number one for global enterprise clients."
Scale and reach aside, Azure enables SAP to navigate safely the patchwork of data privacy and security standards that affect multinational organizations.
"Having access to a third-party public cloud in Azure also gives us greater flexibility—for instance, to address the increasing call for legislation around data sovereignty. We built a data center in Russia to address their legal requirement that data reside in the country for their citizens, but we don't think this is the only way forward," Ettling said. "Azure gives us flexibility in this regard to address future legislation across the globe."