Lack of understanding of data inhibits move to the cloud

Organisations risk being paralysed by not truly understanding the data they have as new challenges arise on their journey to the cloud.

Data governance is a broad area. Businesses want to make sure they have the right measures in place to protect their corporate information, as well as create flexibility to allow their users to have access to what they need quickly and collaborate with both colleagues and customers to deliver the services that businesses require to drive growth.

The emergence of cloud services are more than ever opening up a world of possibilities, where organisations can now focus on their core business and not operationally keeping the lights on.  Focusing higher up the stack allows organisations to deliver on extracting the value they need from their data to innovate and stay ahead of their competition.  Google Cloud Platform is a great example of taking away the need to scale compute, instead allowing organisations to easily consume API’s.  This includes a set in the areas of vision, video intelligence, speech, natural language, translation and job search. They enable customers to build the machine learning applications that can see, hear and understand unstructured data, helping with use cases like next-product recommendations, medical-image analysis and fraud detection.  

Re-igniting traditional issues

Whilst many organisations have publicly stated their aim to be 100 per cent cloud in the near future, it is likely that, for many, a hybrid state will exist with some combination of software, platform and infrastructure services.  These are likely to be spread across multiple vendors such as Salesforce, Amazon, Microsoft and Google to name but a few. 

There are compelling costs, skills and agility reasons to adopt cloud, but this re-platforming exercise can re-ignite some traditional issues.  In a world where real time analytics can be vital, mobile agility is essential, and more stringent data governance rules are being enforced, many organisations are struggling to manage a complex data landscape, as well as controlling the massive and unabating growth in data.  

The problem is then how to integrate, secure and deliver data for analytical purposes to create value in a manner that would pass a regulator's scrutiny? Invariably, in such organisations, a data management strategy was developed to tackle this siloed data phenomenon. 

In the new cloud services world, data fragmentation will be taken to a whole new level with data in multiple, private, public and SaaS applications. Not only is the data more fragmented than ever before, it will likely reside outside the firewall, introducing new security fears over how sensitive data is managed and regulated.  You, therefore, want to make sure these are ironed out prior to any migrations so that you can take full advantage of the framework that cloud services are providing.

As companies look to balance their data and processes between these three broad locations – private cloud, public cloud and on-premises – it’s essential that they have tools in place to enable a consolidated view and visibility across all their data, regardless of location. Only then can organisations truly make the right decisions and effectively classify the data, build the right data retentions and ultimately take the right course of action.  

More than ever organisations need a data management strategy and toolset that can support business agility, whilst ensuring they don’t lose control over their critical data assets. Without this, it could result in worryingly low productivity, or worse, a major security breach or large regulatory fine.   

Data governance will play a key role in ensuring that, no matter where the data resides, businesses still retain ownership, control and visibility.  Otherwise, businesses may struggle to effectively manage and analyse data to make it actionable. The C-level must take control of their information strategy and design their company to fuel business innovation.  We can longer just put a big fence around our corporate information, siloed in one location or governed by the same “one size fits all” policy.  

So how to combat these challenges?

First - Implement a data governance programme - with a mandate that is not only regulatory but also focused at driving business innovation.  Implement the right tools, processes and standardisation to manage the right information effectively, not everything should be considered sensitive.  

Second - Empower admins with actionable insight. Give admins the intelligence to make informed decisions, to govern data from a single pane of glass, and control risk across highly distributed storage environments.  Delete shouldn’t be scary! If we can effectively quantify what it is, then we can take these decisions far easier and more confidently.  

Third - Automate your data lifecycle. Create a self-sustaining data lifecycle based upon retention policies that reflect the value of individual files to your business. Use hybrid cloud storage across the data lifecycle to automate the management and movement of file data across local and cloud services.

Fourth - Make compliance simple. Applying the same policy to all the data is no longer a cost effective strategy to manage corporate information. We need to be able to quickly identify compliance data based on distinguishing content and thus design retention policies to either remove it from the data lifecycle or retain it for a set period. 

Fifth - Empower business people with tools that give them the freedom to find, discover, prepare, analyse and share information through self-service capabilities. Enable business agility, accelerate value realisation and make business people accountable for their data.

It is important to understand the extent of the data that you hold as an organisation to have an effective data protection strategy in place that can effectively scale when adopting cloud services.  Information is becoming more decentralised across the different business departments, each looking for the service that will make their lives easier but not truly understanding the management implication for a business to control and govern effectively. 

Therefore, enterprises that build out their governance policies and streamline their cloud services early on are able to realise greater returns on their cloud investments and better secure and govern their data. Those that don’t, run the risk of paralysis on their journey to the cloud.

Johan Holder, CEO and co-founder Kazoup
Image source: Shutterstock/BeeBright