Information is the lifeblood of any company that wants to stay competitive. Analysts cannot make effective decisions to promote growth without accurate insight into the current state of the business.
Business Intelligence (BI) has for years tried to provide this insight in the form of operational reporting, analytical reporting, scorecards, and projections, by consolidating, cleansing and conforming structured information. Master Data Management (MDM) also plays a role in managing information assets, by defining owner, rules, and publication of information, but like BI, the industry focus has remained on the “low hanging fruit” of structured information.
Unfortunately, structured information accounts for only an estimated 20% of the information within an organization. What about the other 80% of non-indexed and unstructured information that exists outside of corporate databases?
For structured information that resides in databases, we can define views, roles, synonyms, and access restrictions as part of the data modeling phase of the design process to control information at the attribute level. Current database management systems provide adequate functionality to manage these permissions when properly implemented.
Unstructured information located in file systems, e-mails, and SharePoint repositories are not only difficult to manage, but are tedious to relate to structured information for analysis and often do not have a clear owner. For this reason, unstructured information around the enterprise either remains untapped or is only used sporadically.
Data Governance, in theory, covers both structured and unstructured information; but in practice, it has traditionally been much more difficult to define data ownership and repeatable processes for management of unstructured information through its business lifecycle, until now.
The Hub Designs MDM Think Tank recently sat down with David Gibson, Wendy Yale, and Beth Mayer of Varonis (http://www.varonis.com/) which was founded in 2005 to fill an industry gap for Data Governance and a metadata management framework that aligns data ownership and access according to business need. Today, Varonis offers data governance and workflow solutions for unstructured and semi-structured information housed in SharePoint, Exchange, and file systems on the Windows, UNIX, or NAS platforms.
For data architects and security administrators, DatAdvantage gives an audit trail of information usage with recommendations to remove access permissions from users without the business need for it. This proactive approach to security and governance has implications for improved data quality, security compliance, and investigative research into potential corporate espionage. The web interface of DataPrivilege available to business users allows data owners and stewards to report on, manage, and digitally authenticate information they are responsible for.
Combined, this product suite fills the gap in Enterprise Information Management that exists for the 80% of unstructured information that is currently being overlooked rather than effectively managed.
Consider the amount of confidential, proprietary, and even semi-sensitive information that currently exists within your company’s SharePoint environment, network or server drives, and email systems. This information is continually at risk of being compromised by both malicious and accidental means. The risk, value, and cost associated with securing this information varies not only by organization, but also by information type. Start a dialog between business information owners and Data Architects to identify and classify your unstructured information and take appropriate actions to secure sensitive, proprietary, and confidential information.
What interested me most about the Varonis suite is that it provides a single interface to span multiple information storage solutions and it provides an API to allow you to integrate its metadata into your internal proprietary solutions. Certainly, core permissions could be managed individually across platforms for every file and document, but that’s not practical in today’s information-centric business environment. Varonis goes the extra step of not only managing the metadata and access, but also provides an audit trail. We look forward to tracking the continuing progress of Varonis as it expands its product suite even further.