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Charlie Duff

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We met the biggest Cloud in the world at the Business Cloud Summit


The Business Cloud Summit gave another insight into the biggest cloud in the world – 4Success at Siemens. Tom Fisher, VP, cloud computing at SuccessFactors and Jurgen Strahwald, Vice President Corporate Information Technology Governance took to the stage to tell Stuart Lauchlan how they went about creating this massive cloud.

At the Business Cloud Summit, held in London at the end of November 2010, Jurgen Strahwald outlined some of the challenges and targets the company needed. The requirements seemed quite demanding for any provider – with 405,000 log ins required and between 40-50,000 people logging in each day, it’s quite a handful  for anyone to consider.

When asked if the immense proportions of the project daunted the vendor at all, Tom Fisher flatly denied it, saying that was simply not the way SuccessFactors does things. He couldn’t think of anyone who wasn’t hugely excited at the prospect of taking this challenge on, adding: "We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Most of the folks in our company are pretty experienced and have worked with Siemens. We were ready for the challenge."

Tom also highlighted the working culture at Siemens as being a particular part of the implementation. He said: "The way Siemens defines execution is a little different to most companies. Siemens used every manager as a recruiter, so every manager needs to be able to use recruitment software. It’s very unique."

Jürgen said: "I see Cloud Computing as an enabler." He explained one of the attractions of SuccessFactors was that they provide moe than jsut the IT solution, adding: "Companies like SuccessFactors [that] not only provide us with IT solutions but also built in process know-how."

The pair were able to reassure a member of the audience who queried what they were doing about security and the cross-border issues involved in a global corporate.

Jürgen said: "We do penetration testing to ensure IT security is there. Data protection is also connected to regulatory aspects, so we also had to do a lot of paperwork in various countries we operate in.

Tom added: "For the EU, we have hands-on staff in the region working on securing it. Our investment in the EU is very high."

Tom Fisher said bigger companies were now able to make the leap to cloud, saying: "We are working on an implementation that is larger than Siemens."

He added: "But Siemens is the pioneer and they get the first mover advantage." Siemens paved the way for large corporates to reap the benefits small and medium enterprises have known about for some time.

Tom concluded: "Working with Siemens caused us to shift the way we were thinking."

The positive feeling seems to have been mutual: a result, Siemens have implemented the target setting, performance and compensation modules together with the round table, career development, recruiting management and employee profile.

Jürgensaid explained: "We do not see Cloud Computing as the only viable option." But he added, "Whenever we can make use of the power of the Cloud, we do."

Tom commented: "We expanded from a small department in a couple of countries to a system that every manager across Siemens’ 190 countries used on a day-to-day basis."

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Charlie Duff


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