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Your Cloud Your Way

I was talking to the IT and HR leadership team at a high technology company today when one of the leaders said to me and my colleagues that while he wants to be able to move his entire hr solution to the cloud, he wants to make the decision to crawl, walk or run based on the circumstances in his company. Our SuccessFactors account executive then mentioned something that made me smile. She said “You can have your cloud your way”.


OnPremise HCM customers who want to move one or more of their applications to the cloud can do so one by one, at a pace that suits them. SAP and SuccessFactors can support them move one or more of their talent management applications or all their HCM apps to the cloud. That was the official message. After ten months of delivering the message and listening to customers, I am glad to say that it worked for the most part.

Even though the diagram above depicts a classic hybrid HCM solution, it is rarely this perfect. Based on my experience discussing the solution with tens of customers this year, I realized that reality is not perfect at all. However the hybrid approach where we say that customers can have their cloud their way is working for customers. They are able to get their arms around it, plan and execute. This observation is not based on a hypothesis. It is based on my personal interaction with IT and HR leaders from tens of organizations for over 100 hours this year. I believe it is a large enough sample. The coming months will teach us more lessons. We’ll be older and wiser next year.

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  • Hi Prashanth,

    I think the hybrid approach is going to play a big part for customers going forward because of the significant investment they have made in on-premise. Also, I think different cloud solutions are better than on-premise equivalents from SAP, but also that the opposite is also true. With the ability to pick and choose, customers have greater flexibility and, in a way, can almost trial using cloud solutions in one process.

    I’m encouraged by the amount that you’re learning and how it will help shape going forward. The last thing that SAP should do is pretend they know the cloud; if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in SAP it is that I should be constantly learning.

    Best regards,


    • Luke, Thanks for your comment. I see cloud adoption accelerating significantly. However, I also believe that the hybrid model is here to stay for a long time. As I mentioned before, the decisions are not always technical. Sometimes the decisions are budgetary. Sometimes they depend on the culture and readiness of the particular team. For example, the learning and recruiting teams might be enthusiastic about moving to the cloud but other teams may not be so. I think familiarity with the cloud will also speed up adoption. When one team sees the other team doing business comfortably in the cloud, they will gain the confidence and also move their apps to the cloud. I see recruiting teams, goals and performance management teams, succession planning teams, learning teams, compensation teams and workforce analytics teams and employee administration teams showing enthusiasm for the cloud – in that order.

      • Hi Prashanth,

        It’s interesting to note the order of interest that you’ve mentioned and, with exception of WFA, aligns with what I would expect. Analytics are still hugely under-used in Talent Management (I wrote about it in my blogs post on analytics: Analytics for Talent Management) and SF WFA is a good opportunity for organizations to get great access to analytical capabilities without huge technology investments.

        Best regards,


  • Prashanth,

    Thanks for your blogging activities, enjoying reading them.

    I wanted to check on something as it was contrary to what I’d been told previously … OnPremise HCM customers who want to move one or more of their applications to the cloud can do so one by one

    My understanding is that you can’t move Talent Mgmt functionality to the cloud in stages (i.e. you couldn’t put SuccessionPlanning into SFSF in the cloud yet keep Performance on premise for example).  I was told this was because of the tight integration of processes and dependencies on data between the modules.  Did I mis-interpret your sentence or have I been mis-lead? (or maybe things have changed since I was told it).  Or if you do want to do this is it up to the customer to ensure the additional integration points are in place? (in my example, move the performance rating to the cloud for use in the Succession cloud application).


    • Stephen, Thanks for your comment. We would like our customers to move all their talent management applications to the cloud. But, based on my work sessions and discussions with many customers, I learned that it is not always that simple. Budget considerations, current investment in other technologies and immediate pain points determine what they want to move to the cloud. You were absolutely right when you said that the full value of the talent suite and the available standard integrations to OnPremise core HR can be derived when a customers moves all their talent management apps to the cloud.

      We do sell talent management apps in multiple bundles. Customers can choose what they want to buy. They do not always have to buy the entire talent suite. Please reach out to a SuccessFactors account executive in your region for details on the current bundles.

      • Thanks Prashanth.

        Sorry, my question wasn’t so much about licencing or benefits, it was about how easy it is to mix and match some talent mgmt on premise SAP, some in SFSF and whether SAP would encourage this approach to customers (such as the ones you’ve had discussions with).

        I thought you were either fully on premise, fully in the cloud or hybrid … but specifically where hybrid was core HR in SAP on premise and any TM you are using (could be all/some) in SFSF (i.e. not some TM in SAP on premise, some in SFSF)

        Re-reading your comment again, I think you are saying you could use core HR on premise and some (or all) TM in cloud as/when business needs drive it – which I understand.  My question was whether you would ever encourage existing on premise TM customers to leave their existing investment on premise but expand their TM suite into the cloud.   Perhaps easier with an example:

        Say a customer has Core HR & Comp Mgmt who’s roadmap sees them shortly starting to use Perf Mgmt (and then Succession Mgmt). 

        Would you encourage them to put Perf Mgmt in the cloud … and in doing so, how does that affect their on premise Comp Mgmt investment?

        (i.e. could they mix and match?! Or would SAP advise moving their Comp Mgmt to the cloud and ditching their on premise CM solution?)


        • Stephen,

          The hybrid diagram I posted above is what we recommend for customers. But I have noticed that customer scenarios do not always match our recommended scenario 100 percent.

          We are building standard integrations for the hybrid scenario we recommend. The standard scenario is influenced by where we see the market going, our customer needs and our product strategy. We are also watching what our customers are doing very closely. Some patterns are emerging. They will influence our road map and the solutions we provide or our partners provide.

          The compensation on-premise scenario you described sounds like a plausible one. We do not have a standard integration for a scenario like that one in the road map that we have announced. Did you run into that scenario with one or more of your customers? If so I would like to learn more.