Despite all the talk about silos, new research from Aliso Viejo, Calif-based erwin by Quest, part of Quest Software, seems to indicate that finally the silos between data governance, data operations and data protection are diminishing as enterprises seek to understand their data. The change is being driven by the deployment of systems that use and secure data to empower smarter decision-making.

Data Governance Drivers

Building on prior research, erwin by Quest worked with Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) to understand how organizations define, adopt and prioritize data governance, as well as examine the current drivers and challenges of governing data through its lifecycle and integration points.

The 2021 State of Data Governance and Empowerment report (registration required) shows that traditional reasons to implement data governance remain largely unchanged, with analytics (35%), regulatory compliance (34%), and better decision-making (27%) as the top three, improved data security (48%) and data quality (45%) debuted as 2021’s top data governance drivers. These new primary drivers align with the increase in security challenges experienced due to COVID-19 in addition to continuing data proliferation and are primary reasons why 57% of respondents have advancing data governance as a top organizational priority, the report says. This move towards a single source of data is also going to help in other areas of data management, not least of which is governance.

Todd Wright is head of data managements solutions at SAS. He points out that now, creating a single source of data has never been more important as three notable trends emerge:

  • Data privacy: Regulations demand that organizations account for the data they have and what measures they have in place to protect it. Siloed and ungoverned data is counterintuitive to meeting that objective.
  • Data from more sources: There is more data than ever before arriving in organization at an almost uncontrollable pace. To make sense of and trust data (and use for reporting and analytics), it is imperative that data not be siloed.
  • Cloud computing: The cloud has revolutionized the way organizations store and use data, however it could come at a great expense. The movement of data in and out of the cloud has the potential to cost organizations thousands of dollars in fees. Having an accurate accounting of your data — a single source of truth — can potentially cut back on this unnecessary spend.

Related Article: Information Governance Is Boring, But Necessary

Single Data Source for Security

Given the increasing value of data, strengthening data privacy regulations, and the need to protect it against increasing threats, the only effective way forward for organizations is to create a single, unified source of data. This saves cost while simultaneously making it easier to protect the data.

Data silos not only limit an organization’s ability to access data on demand, it also can inhibit an organization’s ability to consistently apply security and compliance standards, W. Curtis Preston, chief technology evangelist for Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Druva, said.

Today’s businesses increasingly lean on data, according to recent survey highlights from Druva. As many as 73% of IT decision makers are relying on data more to make business decisions, yet 41% do not have it readily available when making decisions. Unifying these silos creates a single source of truth, improving an organization’s agility, flexibility and efficiency, Druva shared.

However, organizations must ensure data integrity and security. He points to the fact that while multiple data silos can be difficult to manage and secure, a unified data pool creates a singular “honey pot” for bad actors to target. In addition, this single source of data must be protected against typical data loss scenarios such as natural disasters, equipment failures and accidental erasure.

He added: “We have found the cloud to be the most effective environment to create and protect this unified data set. The cloud offers data security frameworks that commonly exceed those used on-premises, and with the right solution, can offer a digital air-gap which makes it nearly impossible for a bad actor, disaster or accident to compromise your backup copies. “

Additionally, with infinite scalability and global, always-on availability, users can access their data from anywhere in the world with peace of mind their servers will always be online.

Learning Opportunities

Improved Use of Data

Dan Piazza is technical product manager at Stealthbits, now part of  Irvine-Calif.-based Netwrix. He points out that the convergence of data sources within an organization is becoming more important each year, especially with respect to data governance and data protection efforts. Traditional data silos impede cross-department data flows and make locating all data sources within an organization difficult. To properly audit, report on, and protect data, organizations need to know where all data resides at a given moment, and less data sources means a lower chance for data to get overlooked.

“That being said, it’s not feasible for organizations to only have a single data source. However, making sure each data source is centralized (rather than siloed) is the key,” he said. “Centralization improves data governance efforts while promoting data flows that benefit cross-department workflows. It also strengthens an organization’s position for various compliance regulations, as there are less platforms to manage and unknows to hunt down.

He added that centralizing data to fewer sources also improves automation efforts, as workflows like data governance and protection can run seamlessly in the background without frequent need for modifications due to changes to, or discovery of, many traditional data silos throughout an organization.

Maintaining Data Integrity

"Single source of truth data information design theory helps businesses maintain data integrity, Phil Strazzulla, CEO of Select Software Reviews, an independent software assessor, said. This process ensures that all teams use the same documentation editions, creating an efficient flow of information."

Every business has felt the disappointment of finishing a project to specifications established 3 or 4 months old instead of those supposedly confirmed before launch. Single data source management effectively eliminates that outcome.

“What makes these data management models easier is improved cloud architecture,” said. “Storing information in an easily accessible shared location helps teams easily access data on-demand.* It also fosters more collaboration between teams so that updates can be seamlessly shared and approved without the need for disruptive meetings.”

As cloud systems become more widespread and diverse, single data source of truth information design theory will likely become the default mode of data management.