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Extending SuccessFactors – Creating Custom Functionality in the Cloud

I thought I’d follow up with some notes on a session that I conducted at HR2015 which seemed to draw a lot of interest on options for SuccessFactors Extensions. That particular session looked at a wide variety of options that stem from three main categories:

  1. Extension Through Configuration
  2. Extension Through Custom Navigation
  3. Extension Through HANA Offering

In this post I’ll focus on extension through the HANA offeringsas I think it’s an area that has caused much confusion recently with various branding messages coming from SAP and SuccessFactors. I’ve worked over the last few years with Accenture’s HCM software practice creating commercial grade software offerings for SuccessFactors, beginning almost with the acquisition announcement, which has given me a unique look at the development of technologies in this space.

What I’ll try to do here is layout some of the more common HANA technologies that you might have heard of and give you some commentary on what they are used for, and whether they are specifically suited to being utilized for SuccessFactors extensions. With that, let’s take a look:

  • HANA Enterprise Cloud
    • The HANA Enterprise Cloud is a hosted SAP ECC on-premise environment that is accessible through the Cloud. An example of this in practice is SAP’s use of Employee Central Payroll, which is effectively SAP HCM Payroll but with some screens that are extended to be used within SuccessFactors. In theory, just like you can create extensions within your on-premise ECC environment and extend them for use in the cloud, so too can you do the same with the HANA Enterprise Cloud. That being said, there is currently no native single sign-on or security integration between the two platforms, no direct access to the SuccessFactors data model, and the application of HANA Enterprise Cloud can have a hefty license cost to it. For these reasons, it’s not necessarily well suited to creating SuccessFactors extensions, however can be interesting if you’d like to get a cloud license model (CAPEX vs OPEX) paired with on-premise functionality.
    • HANA XS, or extended application services, is an embedded lightweight JavaScript engine built directly into the HANA database. This allows for the development of JavaScript applications directly within a HANA instance and without requiring any middleware. Effectively, applications run in the same memory space as the data itself. At the end of the day, this means that for reporting based applications, rather than heavy transaction based applications, HANA XS might be a good choice. There unfortunately is also no integration with
      SuccessFactors out of the box (yet).
  • HANA Cloud Platform  
    • The HANA Cloud Platform or HCP is SAP’s Platform as a Service (PaaS) offering a Java Stack for application development. This is also cloud space to rent, which will be the home to your own extensions of your SuccessFactors landscape. A good way to think of this is to compare it to an operating system for a smartphone that allows you to create Smartphone apps and then deploy them to an App Store. SAP has taken the same track and allows HCP applications to be certified and sold directly from their web store. The difference is that they will not be running on any of your devices, but on your HCP instance in the cloud, from where they connect to SuccessFactors. You can take a look at the available apps by visiting
    • In practice, HCP is the perfect technology to use for SuccessFactors extensions. I think that you can look at HCP like the Z space in the old on-premise world where when you needed additional functionality, you’d code it in ABAP. Going forward, HCP will be the Z space for the cloud, and not just for SuccessFactors though it’s well suited to do so. HCP offers tight integration with SuccessFactors; it resides within the same data center as SuccessFactors so there are less security concerns with the transfer of data, it supports single
      sign-on to SuccessFactors to allow for seamless transitioning through the two systems, and it supports the same security standards.
  • HANA Cloud Portal
    • The HANA Cloud Portal is SAP’s portal Platform as a Service (pPaaS) offering easy creation of business-driven sites. It is important to remember that this is an actual run-off of the HANA Cloud Platform. One of the interesting things about HANA Cloud Portal is that it allows you to wrap HCP applications using the OpenSocial standard and deploy widgets directly to SuccessFactors to show on the homepage.        
  • SAP HANA Cloud Connector
    • The HANA Cloud Connector is focused specifically on connecting the HANA cloud platform to on-premise environments. This is a relatively well established technology allowing organizations to expose assets on their own landscape without having to expose everything. Unfortunately this tool is not specifically designed for SuccessFactors but rather is a more generic cloud to on-premise tool.
  • HANA Cloud Integration
    • HANA Cloud Integration (HCI) is a relatively new generic SAP Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS). HCI has been in the works for a long time and is intended to act in the long run as a replacement to Dell Boomi. It offers integrations between on-premise systems and SuccessFactors directly. HCI was built with a similar architecture to PI if you’re familiar with this. HCI will ultimately be very well suited to SuccessFactors, but to date is still a relatively new technology.

Well hopefully this gives you a bit of a reasonable glance at the HANA offerings and how they can be used to extend SuccessFactors. Ultimately, the HANA Cloud Platform is by far the most interesting offering out there and is being adopted more and more, which ultimately will improve the value provided for everyone. I will be writing a followup discussing the API’s available for extension and our observations and lessons learned thus far using them in HCP extensions. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have questions on above or just want to comment on the subject matter.


Ari Levin

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Extremely useful clarification of terminology. Very well structured.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Thanks Ari, Good Blog.