The importance of data protection and operational governance for enterprise
Today nearly every company is a digital one, whether they realise it or not. IT infrastructure is the silent and strong backbone of most businesses, where important data is collected and stored, and strategic discussions & decisions facilitated. Every enterprise is undergoing some kind of digital upheaval, whether it be transformational or consist of subtler tweaks to operations or services.
As such, IT governance and data protection are important for businesses. Not least because unforeseen breaches could result in data leaks, shutdowns and delays, reputation damage or even serious devastation – but because governance and data protection are legal requirements with hefty fines for those caught not complying.
Although it is always impossible to completely eliminate risk, it is possible to implement a risk-based approach to data protection, security and good IT governance within your organisation. And, fortunately, commercially available tools and solutions that make the journey as seamless and pain-free as possible are available.
So, where to start? Let’s acknowledge that most businesses use common office tools like Office 365 – in fact, over 120 million currently use this programme. And while its universality and powerful features are hugely beneficial, because it is more-or-less an entire operating system managed from a cloud endpoint, it can create complications and challenges that need help to be alleviated.
New features and applications arriving regularly for Office 365 may present governance and data protection issues that require careful management. Applications like Groups and Teams are good examples. With these, it can be challenging achieving the right balance of controls, because the management tools are confusing with several administrative methods that quickly sprawl and are hard to govern.
Often the knee jerk reaction is to restrict end-user functionality severely, but this can stifle creativity and become a burden for the IT department, who then become responsible for a vast number of problems, stumbling blocks and end-user issues.
One of the best approaches is to keep track of who has access and administrative rights over different features, with IT, legal and security teams making sure that organisational information remains in the appropriate applications and collaboration spaces. But an organisation needs this to be seamless, automatic and integrated so that it is easy to manage and follow.
Fortunately, third-party applications offer control over which applications and integrations can be added to Microsoft Teams at the Team level and enhance the use and connection of cloud applications and platforms. These tools help standardise the process of creating groups to incorporate company policies for ownership and control. This way users gain access to powerful features, but stakeholders can keep risk in check with defined services and policies that are easily defined and enforced.
Besides Groups and Teams there are other places where personal and sensitive information need protection, such as in SharePoint and cloud-based apps where privilege management is crucial.
As organisations move to the cloud from on-premise solutions, they need to incorporate a robust IT governance strategy, because governance challenges can easily arise when using applications that, for the end-user, are simple tools: Office 365 and SharePoint being prime examples.
Typically for these applications companies focus on permissions, infrastructure, and whether the proper people have the ability to provision and administer. And while Microsoft has a Security & Compliance centre to help, many of the native capabilities in Office 365 require a manual setup for each new Team, Group, or SharePoint which can be burdensome.
More automatic, overarching control is beneficial, and is where third-party vendors become invaluable. They can put tools in place to help define how things are created and control who creates them, empowering stakeholders to choose where content and/or workspaces are hosted and how they’re accessed. And when a collaboration space has served its purpose they can provide secure service termination.
By adapting end-user access to automated provisions and policies, cloud governance can be delivered by third-party, reducing the burden on IT teams. One of the most valuable aspects is providing insights, monitoring and reporting into all the actions and administration over collaboration spaces, for instance those taking place in Office 365.
Perhaps, to incorporate easy and secure IT governance, in an ideal world, organisations would reconsider their use of tools like Office and start again with something more inherently secure. But because it’s now baked in and familiar to users and administrators, it’s safe to say it is here to stay, so it’s important to thoroughly address its potential governance issues to stay secure.
And while we’ve touched on a few security red flags that can be mitigated by carefully chosen third-party services, there are plenty more to be aware of and to make provisions for; such as email, video conferencing, content management, workflow automation, and soon.
Fortunately, organisations are not alone but can mitigate risk and increase peace of mind with minimum fuss by adopting third-party IT infrastructure and data governance solutions.
Here at Tech Wire Asia, we think that if you are looking to invest in an IT infrastructure and data governance solution, it is worth considering one of the following suppliers.
An independent software vendor, AvePoint boasts 16,000 customers and six million cloud users worldwide who trust the company to assist them with their digital transformation journey.
AvePoint is a Global ISV Partner of Microsoft, offering migration, management, backup and governance solutions for cloud, on-premises, and hybrid environments. In fact, the company developed its first application for SharePoint over 16 years ago and now has over 40 solutions and services to help organisations drive Microsoft cloud deployment, Office365 adoption and consumption.
Key service offerings from the company include data protection and operational governance. This includes an extensible Office 365 governance strategy that empowers users, is easy to maintain and scales as the organisation adapts to working in the cloud. It also has solutions to proactively monitor and neutralise violations of privacy, security and compliance to help mitigate risk from secondary data creation.
For example, through its DocAve Content Manager and DocAve Report Center, the company helped Nordic organization Atea make sure its data management practices were compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by tracking user permissions.
The company also works with big names such as Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, the US Army and many more. You can read more about AvePoint here.
This well-known IT services provider’s security offering for cloud, mobile and on-premise IT infrastructure protection is aimed at helping customers manage security threats with risk-based intelligence, integration and the industry’s largest SaaS portfolio.
For example, its IBM Dynamic Cloud Security product helps protect workloads, whether used in the cloud, as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS). Its offering focuses on using analytics and controls throughout the cloud, to enhance security operations for efficiency and quick response to threats.
Furthermore, IBM identity and access management services specifically focus on provisioning web access management, leveraging (for example) enterprise single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, and user-activity compliance management.
For IT governance of corporate business initiatives, strategy and regulatory requirements, the company’s OpenPages solution can help to manage compliance across frameworks and regulations while managing internal IT control and risk according to the business processes they support.
Overall, this big-name software provider covers all the bases with a wide-ranging and general offering that might be preferred in existing IBM-heavy stacks.
Quest works with over 76,000 organizations worldwide to plan, deploy, and configure their backup and recovery via its data protection solutions.
However, the company also provides an overarching and more generalised services expertise across several areas including database management, data protection, endpoint systems management, Microsoft platform management, and performance monitoring.
Businesses can minimize data loss with image-based snapshots as often as every five minutes, with the company’s ZeroIMPACT recovery, which can restore anything to anywhere in approximately 15 minutes. It helps protect data in growing and diverse IT environments with its cross-platform solution for all major operating systems, virtual environments, network-attached storage (NAS) devices and leading platforms, including Oracle, Exchange, MySQL, and others.
Its data protection portfolio is used by more than 10,000 customers globally who consider its platforms a core component of data management, and a way in which legislative concerns can be addressed with the deployment of Quest solutions, at a stroke.
Quest calls itself a ‘one-stop-shop for IT governance’, offering a flexible, scale at speed approach and is preferred by enterprises looking for less specialised but more general solutions.
*Some of the companies featured on this editorial are commercial partners of Tech Wire Asia