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March 25, 2022
By Frank Suglia
Most of the world’s data today was created within the last decade, according to findings from research organization SINTEF. With increased reliance on cloud services and technologies, a significant increase in data creation makes sense. However, if this data remains unregulated or ungoverned, many issues may arise that can cause severe problems for businesses.
Further driving data usage, many businesses rushed to the cloud to enable companywide remote work over the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the quick pivot to the cloud often led to companies moving workloads without having a larger cloud strategy and governance plan in place. This often resulted in IT issues such as data sprawl – the massive creation, accumulation and storage of data – as well as challenges with data access, security vulnerabilities, increasing storage and IT costs and more.
Today, companies are re-evaluating their cloud strategies and asking, “What’s next?” as they look to maximize value from their cloud technologies and environments.
If their data remains unregulated or ungoverned, issues such as data sprawl can exacerbate and cause further problems that interfere with organizational operations. There are a few measures IT professionals should consider implementing into their overarching cloud strategy to avoid these issues.
Below are four tips on how IT professionals can optimize cloud utilization.
1. Develop a proper plan. To appropriately manage data governance and mitigate sprawl, some businesses may first need to backtrack and reformulate their cloud approach. Proper training must be available for IT employees on governing and managing cloud data. Doing so is necessary to truly replicate historical business functions and common data inquiries.
When technologies remained mostly on-premises, specialized individuals, such as Microsoft Exchange engineers, cared for and fed the server. Today, these roles are the responsibility of administrators and cloud servers. In the same way businesses plan everything out to a tee for running networks on-premises or other onsite builds, IT teams should do the same for their cloud, especially before it is too late.
Leadership should make sure that IT teams understand the tools available to them, increasing their capability to report and make decisions around whether data stays or goes, and who has access to said data.
2. Invest in data governance. Governance is not solely about fixing a problem. It is about ongoing maintenance to ensure the right people can control data access to manage their cloud infrastructure and costs.
Many organizations invest time into creating data, but not all invest in governing that data. Without governance, data management can become far more complicated than it should. IT teams should be thoroughly adept in data governance knowledge and compliance guidelines to retain all data effectively and proactively.
Creating a proactive governance plan can reduce costs and clutter. Businesses need to invest in data governance tools to save money and organize data, while also showing the return on investment from governance platforms. This does not mean that businesses need to retain all of their data and have it accessible to everyone in the organization. Those that must keep a significant amount of data due to compliance requirements should only make it accessible to the necessary parties. Businesses can also explore hosting data elsewhere as compliance allows.
Additionally, IT teams should be aware of …
… any data limits that may pertain to the services they use. Observe data limits for mailboxes, document folders, and more, which may vary depending on the company’s operational functions.
3. Clean house of irrelevant data. One contributor to data sprawl is a transfer of duplicated or unnecessary data. Moving to the cloud is a perfect opportunity to clean house of any unused or redundant data. Doing so will minimize the amount of storage occupied by irrelevant data, reduce sprawl and strengthen data security.
Businesses must take measures to prevent sprawl as their organizational and compliance protocols allow. A few common areas to monitor include active accounts tied to former employees, existing documentation that’s no longer aligned to current business processes, and marketing assets that are no longer relevant. Additionally, putting the IT department in charge of channel creation in platforms like Microsoft Teams can help reduce the creation of single-use channels, a frequent contributor to sprawl.
Eliminating unnecessary data will help streamline productivity, as employees will not need to search far and wide for the data they need. Cloud migrations are always an opportunity to transform, reorganize and reduce clutter.
4. Hire a data governance lead. Hiring an expert is never a bad idea, especially with the unfamiliarity that digital transformation can bring. A data governance lead can arrive already well-versed in best practices that your company should adopt. They can report to the CTO or CIO, and it can prove a worthwhile investment to have an individual who truly owns and understands governance.
Perhaps most importantly, a data governance lead can define the reporting and methodologies for monitoring data resources, allocating and applying technology resources, and measuring costs. Governance is not solely about using technology; it is about the proactive use of technology and proactively using it in responsible ways. This includes having access to data on demand.
Investment in a governance lead can be via a new hire or even a third-party solution. It all depends on your business’s needs and what works best in gaining better insight into your systems to make better decisions.
To ensure your IT environment is humming along smoothly, businesses must be proactive in implementing governance measures into their larger cloud strategy. Keeping governance top of mind will help mitigate data sprawl, improve operations and boost employee satisfaction. A cloud migration can serve as a catalyst to introduce a true governance model – take advantage of the opportunity now, and it will pay off in dividends later.
Frank Suglia is vice president of technical sales at BitTitan, where he works with the company’s partners to showcase and drive new and recurring revenue. His areas of expertise include SaaS, digital marketing and performance optimization, enterprise solution delivery, technology sales and delivery methodologies, and user interface design. You may follow him on LinkedIn or @BitTitan on Twitter.
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