Keeping enterprise IT in line

By Manfred Berger, Senior Business Development Manager EMEAI, Western Digital.

  • 6 months ago Posted in

It’s a challenging time to be a CTO. Across all industries, IT decision makers are constantly looking for the next great idea to level up their business. Today, the widespread use of the cloud and smart devices have fundamentally altered how companies store, access, manage and measure their data. Despite the various benefits, these new innovations have also brought novel security risks and unprecedented data management challenges. This has put IT data management in a state of constant flux requiring forward-thinking solutions to protect businesses data from risk. Worldwide, an estimated 60% of corporate data is stored in the cloud. As more companies move their data out of their organisational network and infrastructure, the risk of breaches becomes top-of-mind.

CTOs and CIOs are faced with many options of how and where to store their crucial information, be that in an on-premises data centre, onsite at a colocation facility, or in the cloud. Often, IT decision makers opt for a hybrid of the options best suited to their enterprise needs. As a result, companies are reinventing processes, procedures, and safeguards as they leverage and manage the growing complexity of data. Building appropriate controls and governance requires a deeper understanding of a company’s data, whether it lies within IT, production, financials, or other parts of the enterprise.

Data: under lock and key

Cloud growth has radically impacted our ideas around security and security management. Unlike other forms of data storage, the cloud presents particular challenges in its versatility. Cloud data may be structured or unstructured and can hold both enterprise and personal accounts. This is simultaneously extremely useful and challenging for security teams looking to closely manage enterprise data.

An additional major risk to organisations can be shadow data, defined as data that resides outside an organisation’s formal data infrastructure or the data you don’t know about. Shadow data is usually created without the same controls as organisational data, which stems from sanctioned environments. Therefore, this kind of data can be an entry point for breaches. To reduce the risks of sensitive information being leaked or malware being shared through company channels, businesses should implement strict guidelines on what files are shared, through what channel and for what purpose. This streamlining of processes can ultimately make IT management more straightforward as well as reducing risk.

As the cloud and other resources are easy to use by employees, companies can set up test environments or environments to evaluate new services or applications. Companies can also tighten up process around who and how many people engage and how data is moved around. This is likely a more prominent issue for small-to-midsize companies that may not have the appropriate budget or adequate human resources in place to effectively manage their information. When budgets or time are a limited resource, IT managers can be tempted to opt for the most straightforward solution. However, when it comes to data management, it is worth investing sufficient time to make sure that company needs are met. IT governance must be proactive to be effective, as lost or compromised data can result in a major hit for a company of any size.

Ensuring governance

In any enterprise, data management and governance are crucial to ensure that all aspects of an organisation are working harmoniously. However, in businesses where information is collected in silos, this can be a challenge.

A good example of this comes from the manufacturing industry, where yield is an important metric. Even though this data can prove useful, if it is collected, measured and reported in an ungoverned manner, the results could be completely inaccurate and therefore useless.

In smart manufacturing and other industries, success is highly dependent on data to derive insights on quality, environmental conditions, and other factors. Although human error remains important, it is not the only thing to consider. In today’s world of decentralised data, even Internet of Things (IoT) sensors collecting information in an unregulated way can impact the usefulness of enterprise data. To ensure that data is utilised in the most profitable manner possible, managers must consider and limit all key factors to reduce irregularity at the earliest stage possible. This ensures that data collected is consistent and ultimately gives insights that can allow a business to be more profitable.

Sticking to the rules

Regardless of how data is used within a business or where it comes from, data-reliant initiatives cannot happen without the right controls and governance in place. In certain cases, IT teams may need to be more focused on technical aspects where for others security, processes and compliance may be a priority. The deeper the understanding of how data is used across the company, the more sophisticated the orchestration of its control mechanisms can be, and standards must be implemented no matter where data resides.

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