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Data and Storage Management: Why You Need to Manage Your Data, Not Just Your Storage

November 14, 2022

Topics: Cloud Data Sense 9 minute read

If you’re responsible for data management at your organization, it can be easy to get focused on the storage layer, without paying attention to the data itself. That can be a big mistake.

In this blog we’re going to take a look at why it’s important to understand the contents of your data, which are the most important data points to consider, and how managing them properly with NetApp Cloud Data Sense can help you improve your overall storage health and optimize your operations.

Read on below as we cover:

Managing Storage Vs. Managing Data

Storage admins get hands on with the storage layer. It’s their domain, and the tasks they perform to manage it are critical to their organizations. Typically, managing storage includes activities such as provisioning volumes, replicating volumes between repositories, ensuring backups are safe and inline with recovery goals, reducing duplication to optimize storage usage, and other basic housekeeping to make sure things run smoothly.

But while it’s important to get the technical parameters right for availability, performance, and cost optimization, there are other aspects of data management that go beyond just managing storage. It’s important to be aware of the data itself.

Managing data includes more granular activities, such as identifying different types of data for different levels of security, ensuring that data is easily accessible to the people who use it most, and implementing data management policies across the organization.

Understanding the contents, quality, sources, state, location, and permissions of the data itself can provide organizations with many additional benefits. Data drives your company’s decision-making. Bringing your data management to the next level can improve your data management policies and provide better decision-making capabilities for your organization.

Awareness of these aspects will elevate your ability to support the business by better controlling the organizational data. Let’s take a look at how storage admins can do that.

Data Fundamentals to Understand

One of the main goals of data management is to more effectively accomplish your business goals. As someone who is responsible for handling the data, you can showcase a higher value to the data team as well as to those who are creating and using business intelligence based on the data.

Each of these areas provides a different level of control and improved position for the data team and the company as a whole.

1. Hidden in the Data: Metadata

High quality metadata is the key to the effective discovery, usage, security, and storage of the data of any organization. But finding a way to organize all of that high quality metadata can be a challenge. If you’re going to use that metadata to improve data governance in terms of understanding how to store the data, who to make it accessible to, and how to aid compliance, you need to find a way to get insights from it.

Consider for example a company using multiple mailing lists and even different types of software between departments to contact customers and prospects. When trying to get complete information on the customer journey, the company would need a way to collate these different sources. Having the access to metadata can facilitate the discovery of these different data sets and help determine which are relevant for the current business needs.

Metadata is also crucial when it comes to data modernization and migration projects. With more companies looking at new architectures such as data mesh, cloud data managers will find it increasingly important to have deep knowledge of what data they have. You can read more about clean data migrations here.

2. Which Data Matters?: Data Quality

Data quality concerns are near the top of the list for companies, according to both Forrester and Gartner. As business leaders are relying on data to make their decisions, it’s important to provide data that meets standards of accuracy and completeness, as well as having the most up-to-date data available for the data team.

Storing low-quality data is also an issue when it comes to costs and storage usage. Being able to identify data that is no longer needed, duplicate, or simply unnecessary can have a real effect on overall TCO.

As the manager of the data repositories, how you make the data available may affect what is used, and how much storage is on hand to use it, so it’s important to have a way to separate the most relevant and high quality data from the rest.

3. A Need-to-Know Basis: Data Sensitivity

Another “state” that might be relevant to your organization is the level of sensitivity of the data. Personally Identifiable Information is, of course, the most commonly protected data because of compliance requirements. Aggregated data about consumers can be anonymized, making it less sensitive from a compliance perspective, but still quite sensitive when it comes to the usefulness of the data to the company. Vendor data, pricing, and legal documents are also different types of sensitive data.

Depending on your industry, you may have data that is even more sensitive than personal data. If you are working in the areas of energy, infrastructure, defense, or government services, you may be storing data that has security consequences if leaked. Proper data management includes identifying all of these different levels of data sensitivity, and taking the appropriate protection measures.

4. Knowing Where the Data Is: Data Location

Data location can refer to the geographical location as well as the virtual location of the data. Most enterprise systems today have hybrid IT systems. The data might be located in one of the enterprise systems, stored inside a SaaS network cloud, be part of a containerized or virtualized compute system, or exist on premises. All of these locations will impact the accessibility of the data itself, the risks associated with storing the data in this way, and the type of processing the data might need as it is ingested for processing with analytics systems.

Another key area of the data location is the movement of the data through the organization. Departments share data with one another. This can cause duplication of data and risks to the proper storage of data. The way that data is stored necessitates appropriate company policies for the transfer as well as the storage of the data.

5. Holding All the Keys: Data Permissions

Data permissions indicate who can use the data, the types of regulations that might relate to it, and even the length of time it can be stored. It’s your responsibility to make sure that there are appropriate permissioning and provisioning levels in accordance with the types of data and the regulations that are relevant. Often there are interrelationships between geography, source, metadata, and geography that go along with the permissioning.

The Benefits to Knowing Your Data Better

To the degree that you are able to understand your data better, you can manage the data better. Having a grasp on each of the six areas above will provide:

  • Improved storage policies. Retiring data, identifying duplicate data, and locating data where it’s needed are all steps towards efficiency, compliance, and cost savings.
  • Easier data migration. As companies undertake digital transformation and data migration, you’ll be in an ideal position to make those changes.
  • Improved security. Setting the right permissions, identifying sensitive data, and understanding the data sources will improve the security policies.
  • Better compliance methodologies. Better knowledge of the nature of your data allows you to implement policies that are aligned with the compliance needs of your organization.
  • Appropriate alignment of customer and partner rights and preferences. Compliance is the legal expression of maintaining customer rights, but you can do even better in terms of really understanding how your customers and partners want their data handled.

Fortunately, even if you have not been on top of knowing about your data in the past, tools such as NetApp Cloud Data Sense provide the automation for you to get control over your data.

How Data Sense Helps You Understand Your Data

Data Sense is NetApp’s AI-driven data mapping and classification toolkit. It is easily accessible as part of NetApp’s cloud services ecosystem and provides a wide range of features that give storage admins more insights and control with their data.

See all your data
Data Sense scans provide insights no matter what type of data you have or where it’s stored:

  • Scan any type of data, whether it’s in unstructured, structured, database, file, or object repositories.
  • Scans are storage agnostic and work across heterogeneous storage architectures
  • Fully hybrid scanning works on-prem and in the cloud on Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud.

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Focus on the information that matters
Data Sense scans reveal and organize details about your data that aren’t readily available:

  • Scans find data by type, time stamp, owner, access permission, and other details.
  • PII and other sensitive data are identified
  • Sensitive data is classified by level of sensitivity so you know what to protect

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Get deep insights about your data
Data Sense scans produce readable reports that give you detailed information about your data:

  • Find out where you can start saving by identifying junk data
  • See which repositories host the most sensitive data
  • Highlight unprotected data so you can secure it
  • Classify data by a range of categories and custom fields

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Define your data set
Data Sense lets you define search targets to look for information that is relevant to your business:

  • Define sensitivity level, labels, time stamp, size, and more
  • View data results organized by directory, structured, or unstructured
  • Download reports to easily share findings with team members

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Use your insights to take action
Once Data Sense scans are complete, it’s time to use those insights to better govern your data and optimize your storage layer:

  • Adjust policies to set up automatic alerts, delete files, and label items using AIP
  • Categorize data using custom tags and AIP labels
  • Take specific data sets the results identify and move, copy, or delete them to free up storage, migrate clean data sets, or secure data

Classification 6

Data and Storage Management with Cloud Data Sense: Knowing More Means Doing More

Cloud Data Sense allows storage admins to get in-depth and real-time insight into many different aspects of their data and storage management: metadata, data quality, sources, state, locations, and permissions.

This AI-powered solution helps companies set appropriate compliance, storage, access, and security policies based on the current state of their data. Cloud Data Sense helps companies prepare for data migration and implement modern data stack architectures based on their needs. To find out more, see why GigaOm named Data Sense outstanding in two separate reports.

Sign up for a free trial of Cloud Data Sense for up to 1 TB of data.

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Semion Mazor, Product Marketing Manager

Product Marketing Manager