SAP SuccessFactors offers Canadian data centre to address customer privacy concerns

Canadian customers of human capital management software as a service (SaaS) SuccessFactors will now have the option of storing their data on native soil, according to SAP Canada Inc.

A data centre in Markham, Ont. hosted by CenturyLink will host SuccessFactors data for new Canadian customers and existing customers that want to migrate. Previously, SuccessFactors was hosting data for Canadian customers in its U.S. and European-based data centres, explains John Hiscox, vice-president of human capital management at SAP Canada.

“Data privacy is often a big concern of companies. Whether public or private, the preference is to have it sit in their country of operations,” he says. “The data isn’t crossing foreign borders so it doesn’t get subjected to what it would in a foreign geography.”

Many Canadian firms have expressed unease with data stored in U.S. data centres. Privacy-related concerns reach back at least as far as The Patriot Act’s implementation, a piece of legislation that allows authorities to investigate privately-held data and gags the holder of that data from informing customers. Recent revelations brought forward by Edward Snowden about the National Security Administration’s scheme to surveil Internet communications en mass added more reason to worry.

SuccessFactors was hearing from its Canadian customers that a local data centre was desirable, Hiscox says, and several are already lined up to see their data migrated.

“Moving data around is not something we do often,” he says. New customers in Canada will see their data stored in the new location by default, while existing customers will have to request that it be moved.

An SAP data centre location in Germany.
An SAP data centre location in Germany.

The new data centre offering is also a response to the growing demand for SuccessFactors software in Canada, Hiscox says.

“We’re growing rapidly,” he says. “Our cloud business is set to grow.”

SAP saw a 56 per cent increase in cloud subscriptions and support revenue at SAP globally in 2014, reaching €1.1 billion in revenue. SAP is projecting its cloud business to grow by 700 per cent by the year 2020.

Having a Canadian-based data centre could help SuccessFactors broaden its customer base. Some sectors – such as the public sector – require that data be stored within Canadian borders in order to remain compliant.

German enterprise software firm SAP acquired SuccessFactors in early 2012 and at first continued to operate it as a separate business unit. Eventually, SAP brought it under the fold of its cloud business unit, as the company tailored more of its own products to be delivered over the Internet. Now the SuccessFactors corporate entity has finished collapsing its structure into SAP, Hiscox says.

SAP brought its HANA Enterprise Cloud to a Canadian data centre in August 2014. There are 16 data centers operated by SAP worldwide.

While CenturyLink provides the physical facilities, Hiscox points out that SAP operates the data center – all aspects right down to the bare silicon.

SuccessFactors is generally available at the Markham-based data centre as of May 27.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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