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Multi-Clouds Need Solid Data Governance

With data governance, companies retain control over their data in multi-clouds

July 16 2020Martin Holzinger

Implement compliance requirements

Multi and hybrid clouds offer companies the best of all worlds when it comes to optimizing their business processes. At the same time, however, companies also need to take precautions to keep ‘their’ data under control in these flexible scenarios. Data governance is more than just backup and recovery; it also helps keep compliance requirements in check. 

Digitization = the age of data

A hand stretched forward points to the virtual Big Data lettering.

Digitization is also the age of big data. Data-driven business models, which are now a catchphrase, need ... data. It’s not just Internet services that want to know everything about us; even companies that have previously been operating in the physical world are making efforts to gain ‘more intensive customer insights’. To do this, they not only delve into the treasure chest of their business operations, i.e. the dust-collecting digital archive; they also call on publicly accessible data pools such as social media and invent new ways of prompting customers to exclusively give them additional current data. Knowledge is power – and never has this saying been more apt.

The recycling of data generates further data

This data of course also needs to be saved, managed and analyzed. Merely collecting it does not generate any added value. A pile of old plastic bottles is worth nothing; the added value only comes when the pile is recycled. The difference here is that, while the plastic bottles disappear when the rubbish is recycled, recycling data produces ... more data. 

You can see where this is going. At the end of 2018, IDC estimated that 175 ZB of data would be created by 2025. That’s an unfathomably large amount. Eighty percent of this data will be kept in companies’ virtual archives, while half (49 percent) will lie in the public cloud. There is obviously a considerable overlap between company-owned data and data in the public cloud.

Data governance is relevant

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It is becoming noticeably harder to control data in the multi-cloud world. Data is produced almost everywhere, and is constantly moving. And yet it is in companies’ interests to keep their data under control. Not only to ensure it can be retrieved in cases of doubt, but also to be able to prove they are handling the data in compliance with the law. To make matters more difficult, different regulations apply depending on how and where the data is recorded. International business operations can be quite stressful when it comes to compliance.

This is why companies need to take precautions when managing their data in the multi-cloud. And this doesn’t just apply to companies that have committed themselves to a data-driven future, but rather to every company that accesses resources from the public cloud. Data governance is becoming a key issue. 

Given the huge volumes of data produced every second, data governance is no mean feat. Just think of all the data thousands or even millions of networked ‘things’ produce, or the data generated in central systems for the purpose of business management. Automatically. Do you use clouds or distributed/mixed infrastructures at your company?

Data governance in the multi-cloud and hybrid cloud

Companies using hybrid clouds and/or multi-clouds first need to think about how their data is handled. While the decision to go with a hybrid cloud may be based on this very reason (data governance), data governance is by no means a given in multi-cloud environments. 

In the hybrid cloud, protection-worthy data (such as the customer database containing personal data and credit card details) can be stored in a password-protected private cloud, while the front end (the order portal for products) is maintained in a public cloud for scaling reasons. 

Data governance must manage the data entrusted to the company by customers throughout an entire lifecycle – from input to potential final deletion. Data storage and processing need to be traceable and undergo audits.

Dynamism in multi-clouds makes governance more difficult

This can get even more complicated in multi-clouds that move workloads situationally based on criteria such as capacity availability, costs and performance. This makes automated data management all the more necessary. Very little can be achieved manually. Data governance tools need rules for data handling (policies), and then move data to convenient public clouds or secured private storage resources depending on its classification. Regional storage locations can of course also be specified in the policies so that elements such as data archiving or backup can automatically take place at a European data centre.

Data governance is an essential part of a multi-cloud concept

Anyone who sees themselves using the multi-cloud in future should therefore also factor in a professional (i.e. one that generates minimal expense) data governance solution right from the outset. This should cover aspects such as auditability, backups, disaster recovery, security and compliance. Making up for neglected precautions down the line can end up being expensive, for example if GDPR provisions or other legal regulations have been breached.

Shaping the multi-cloud

More on multi-cloud management can be found in our white paper about future cloud infrastructures.

About the author

Martin Holzinger

Head of Business Development & International Consulting, T-Systems International GmbH

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