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During the last decades we were witness to a massive IT shift across organizations. Organizations used to rely on monolithic, homogeneous, and centralized IT environments and on-premises infrastructures. Now, we’ve largely moved to multiple environments, including cloud, on-premises, edge, and numerous managed third-party software service providers. Alongside this rapid technical shift, we saw the business digital transformation era, which revolutionized industries and generated new data-driven business models and partnerships.
The challenge IT leaders face today is how to create harmony and structure to cope with the rapid transformation from a legacy centralized IT landscape to the modern digital world. Today organizations are creating vast amounts of decentralized data scattered across multiple environments and platforms every day. Furthermore, new business use cases are increasingly dependent on data capabilities to succeed.
More than anything, business leaders today need to understand what it takes to build a great and modern data estate. This article explores what businesses should consider in order to build a great data estate and how to manage a single unified data fabric across their data estate.
Jump down to a specific part of this article:
- What Is a Modern Data Estate?
- What Organizations Need To Take Into Account To Create A Great Data Estate
What Is a Modern Data Estate?
Data is the centerpiece of modern business concepts and digital transformation strategy. It’s crucial to have a holistic overview and understanding of all business data across an organization.
Given the increased importance of this data overview, the idea of the “data estate” was established as a combination of an organization’s infrastructure and data, and is seen by Microsoft as a key winning formula for the next decade. A modern data estate contains infrastructure and data scattered across multiple environments and locations. When properly leveraged, it enables the organization to fulfill current business needs and unlock the potential for future value creation.
An organization’s data estate is complex and includes many aspects to take into account: vast amounts of third-party adopted technologies, organizational processes and policies, enablement of new use cases supported by business intelligence, machine learning, and IoT, among many other technologies.
Successful businesses are able to design and manage their data estates in a way that can set them apart from competitors, consistently allowing them to adapt and provide greater value.
What Organizations Need To Take Into Account To Create A Great Data Estate
Contrary to what one might think, creating a great data estate isn’t just about choosing the right set of technologies. While the right technology plays a big role in a data estate’s success, it’s important to ensure that good practices are put in place and that the business fosters a culture where data is leveraged across every function.
The right mindset combined with best practices makes a tremendous difference in creating a great data estate. While there are many best practices to consider, there are a few selected ones that should be a part of all data estate bucket lists. Below we explore what those are and split them across three key areas: build, protect and govern.
The way a data estate is built sets the foundation for the future. The ability to deploy, discover and manage your data, regardless of how and where it’s stored, through an API-driven central control plane is key to building a modern data estate.
Modern data storage is no longer bound to block storage devices or hard disks managed in on-premises data centers. Today, organizations need to be able to provision using different methods such as block storage, file storage, and object storage. However, the challenge is that each public cloud provider and on-premises storage vendor has its own set of managed storage services with different APIs and interfaces.
While businesses benefit from using different storage services for improved disaster recovery and data mobility, spreading data access across hybrid and multi-cloud services presents a complex technical challenge. Moreover, since each vendor or cloud provider has its own methods, IT leaders need to pay special attention to finding the best ways to plan and optimize storage costs throughout the data lifecycle.
Computing capabilities are becoming more powerful and moving up to higher abstraction levels, such as containers and serverless functions. With this evolution, it’s increasingly important to find a way to discover data in environments supported by managed cloud storage building blocks. Discovering and mapping data directly from application environments such as Kubernetes clusters, on-premises volumes, or third-party SaaS makes a big difference in gaining a complete view of an organization’s data estate.
With the rise of cyber threats, the protection of data assumes a critical role in any modern data estate. The best way to mitigate threats and avoid infrastructure disruption is to use a zero-trust data-centric approach. This approach requires that a data estate is equipped with a broad set of features to protect against external threats and also to build resilience to counteract any type of incidents that might arise in daily operations.
Data resilience is essentially about increasing tolerance to handle failures and react to unexpected situations in a manner that ensures business continuity. At the very core, a data estate should have capabilities such as high-availability storage, data encryption, fast backup and restore, and data replication across multiple regions and environments. These are features that any cloud provider enables out of the box and are part of the reason why the cloud became so popular.
Among the many cyber security threats that organizations face today, one stands out among the crowd: ransomware. This particular type of cyber-attack has been crippling organizations worldwide by encrypting data storage (often including backups) and demanding a ransom payment. Holding organizations' data hostage has proven quite profitable to malicious attackers. Therefore, it’s important that your data estate has ransomware protection, detection, and response capabilities to handle cyber attacks.
With the complexity of the modern world, IT teams need to contend with regional and international compliance regulations such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, and GDPR. A modern data estate needs to enable organizations to easily follow security and privacy compliance operational needs.
One of the biggest challenges IT leaders in roles such as enterprise architect, privacy officer, or cybersecurity manager face is how to govern their data estate in their day-to-day operations. A modern data estate should provide capabilities that allow high-level data visibility and at the same time enable a degree of control and actionable insights.
When it comes to visibility, a data estate should provide those in governance and management roles with monitoring capabilities over all deployed data resources. It should also provide comprehensive insights and analytics over costs, utilization, and performance. With the most advanced technical solutions, that visibility can often be extended to create workflow automation or include information such as data classification and auditing. This helps in understanding how sensitive the data is and what actions were performed by whom over its entire lifecycle.
At its very core, any modern data estate should always have the most elemental functionalities that allow organizations to govern their data and support the management of their daily activities. A good example of one of those elemental features is role-based access control, which controls the people and machines in an organization who are authorized to complete specific actions with the data.
NetApp provides users with a unified control plane, delivering a simplified hybrid multicloud experience for storage and data services across on-premises and hyperscaler cloud environments. Leveraging NetApp Cloud Manager, NetApp’s unified control plane includes all the features required to build, protect, and govern a modern data estate.