Better Data Governance Through Better Storage is Possible

It seems every few weeks, a new high profile press story appears, highlighting another company whose data stores have been breached.  This string of breaches emphasizes the increased importance of good data governance.  So it only makes sense to focus a bit on the topic of data governance as part of my series of blogs on the four pillars of data-aware storage.

The need to enhance data governance is a key defining requirement of data-aware storage.  In large part, storage and storage administrators historically have not played a key role in helping to govern data.  With data-aware storage, the opportunity to inform and influence data governance policies and processes significantly increases.  At its heart, data governance is the practice of effectively stewarding data through its useful lifecycle, insuring access is exclusive to those within the organization who need access, and properly retaining and disposing of information to meet regulatory and corporate needs.

Data-aware storage goes beyond classic storage solutions to address these needs, with a set of core architectural innovations that help simplify data governance.  By implementing these core technologies at the storage layer, important metadata (i.e., the data about the data) that’s important for effective governance is efficiently captured, processed, and stored with a minimum amount of overhead and oversight.  These include:

  • File attributes: 
File size, file type, file owner.
  • User Activities:  
The storage platform knows who is accessing data, what data is being accessed, and when the data is being accessed.
  • Data Tagging: 
Content is analyzed and tagged according to pre-defined criteria.
  • Content Analysis:
 File metadata fields and content are text-indexed and made searchable.

Use Cases
Correlated and simply accessed through advanced visualization and data query tools, this comprehensive metadata fuels a variety of governance use cases:

Establishing data ownership. 
Good data governance requires a clear understanding of who owns, or should own, data.  As organizations are reorganized and individuals transition roles within or outside the company, unstructured, file-based data is particularly prone to be orphaned and un-managed.  Through simple queries, file ownership can be clearly identified, reports exported and evaluated to insure proper ownership of key data types is resolved.

Data privacy and PII compliance. 
In addition to internal policies, a variety of government data privacy regulations mandate proper handling of sensitive data.  These laws require safeguards to ensure confidentiality, prevent misuse, and limit access.  Data-aware storage analyzes, tags and surfaces content that contains PII (Personally Identifiable Information) such as credit card numbers and social security numbers so that proper remediation is done to secure the data.  All users that have read this data can easily be identified as well.

Audit trail analysis.
For a variety of reasons, knowing who is accessing what data within your organization is key.   For resolving suspicious activity by a rogue employee, identifying unauthorized data access, or establishing whether and when a data breach has occurred, a historical record of data access is extremely valuable.

User access profiles.
Data-aware storage simply allows administrators to resolve what files a user has viewed and edited in a defined time-frame.

Retention and deletion.
Data that must be retained for regulatory reasons, internal policies, or their business value can be topically identified through search queries and properly preserved.

Dormant data analysis. 
Organizations incur significant cost and a variety of latent risks by storing data beyond its useful life.  By identifying data that has not been accessed in a defined time-frame, the data’s owner(s) and administrators can proactively resolve to reduce risk exposures.

Intellectual property protection.
Simple queries allow governance professionals to identify data subsets that are particularly valuable and sensitive to the organization, in order to proactively secure and retain these documents.

For more on data governance, download our white paper Data Management in the Modern World or for more detail on how DataGravity solutions meet the need for enhanced data governance, download our solution brief.

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Tim Sherbak

Tim Sherbak leads product marketing at DataGravity, aligned to his passion for helping customers adopt new technologies and solutions to deliver breakthrough results. Tim has held sales and marketing leadership roles in some of the most pioneering companies in technology.