Once you’ve attained GDPR compliance, the journey is far from over. Ongoing improvement of your data governance processes needs to be a key focus for organisations to continue to demonstrate a responsible approach and maintain brand confidence.
Your data and applications landscape never stands still, particularly where mergers and acquisition activities are a factor, so a method of discovery that can shed light on “dark-data” within your enterprise is a vital tool for your information management team.
In this blog, we examine Microsoft’s Azure Data Catalog, a fully managed service capable of acting as a central digital register for your data assets and how you can leverage it to optimise your GDPR processes and remove manual administrative burden on your team. We’ll address some key questions you should ask before deciding if the tool is right for your business.
Who is the Azure Data Catalog for?
Any user, from developers & data scientists to administrators and data analysts, can utilise the tool to discover, register, describe and document data sources as they consume them during their day-to-day work. Even non-technical data consumers can take advantage of the central hub provided by the tool when making connections via commonly used processing tools such as Excel.
How many assets can be brought under management?
Any data object registered in the Data Catalog, such as database tables and views, files or reports count towards the total number of registered data assets. The Free Edition of the Data Catalog is limited to 5,000 registered data assets whereby the Standard Edition supports up to 100,000 registered objects.
Will my data be safe in the cloud?
The Azure Data Catalog only stores the metadata, the records that describe your assets in the cloud. The actual content itself remains in the original location. So, there are no security concerns to overcome in that respect. If you chose to store a data preview to assist potential consumers within the business, a limited number of records are stored in Azure to provide that.
The tool supports the discovery of data assets that reside on-premise as well as in the cloud, providing a complete picture of your enterprise data.
Will the tool automatically discover new data sources?
No, you’re not quite ready to throw away your manual asset register just yet. The Azure Data Catalog will require you to know which database servers you already have for you to connect and analyse the data within them.
The real power of the tool comes from its ability for you to gather the metadata which describes your data, allowing your data owners to enrich those descriptions and then publish them to make a fully indexed and searchable catalogue.
To put this into context, you might ask the question: “Which databases do we store credit card information in?” – running a query on the catalogue will reveal where those records are and present a profile detailing how many records exist.
How do we make the best use of this technology to improve data governance?
Like any good project, start with making the business case for the tool. If you have an information security team, constantly running around making GDPR related requests of developers, analysts and business intelligence specialists, there’s a good chance that time is being wasted, because a well-managed data asset register isn’t being maintained.
Also, think about the opportunity presented by having the business really own and update a central data reference library repository like this. Innovation and digital transformation thrive on data – and you might just find some real golden nuggets hidden away in the dark recesses of your operations, that could be the key to implementing the next killer app or impactful business improvement.
Are you ready to uncover more about your data?
Business data is as much a part of Columbus DNA as it is yours, our experience and deep knowledge of the line of business data relating to manufacturing, food and retail put us in a unique position to help you uncover and start making more use your data assets.