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An Introductio to Data Governance

Data security is of utmost importance for all organizations, and can be ensured with proper data governance policies. In an introduction to data governance, there’s so much to cover, so I’ve split this Azure Every Day blog/video into 2 parts. Let’s start with the basics.

Data Governance essentially has 3 pillars - people, processes, and technology.

  • People – the people involved are a data governance board, data stewards and data custodians.
  • Processes – what are the steps to ensure data is stored, processed, archived, and protected?
  • Technology – The applications and tools we use to govern the content and metadata. In the past, we had a database which had reporting and that was the framework. But as technology has grown, data has become a strategic asset. With so many applications, we need to structure and formalize the package to create a framework in which to build.

Data Governance has an incredible amount of benefits:

  • Creating a data driven organization where data becomes an asset.
  • A centralized single source of truth.
  • Allows us to align with industry best practices.
  • Using consistency through code reviews, pre-defined processes, and repeatable patterns.
  • Ensures transparency as all business units are involved in the design processes for all data initiatives.
  • Gives us that data security that is so important; we protect our asset at rest, in flight and when viewed.
  • A catalog or data dictionary to document and define data to end users.
  • An audit trail lets us see what happened when and by whom over time.
  • Leverage existing change management solution, with pre-defined backout plans, ticketing system and documented audit trail of what changed.
  • Disaster recovery is incorporated to make sure our data is safe and can be recovered.
  • Source control to document code so it’s not lost, as well as to see a detailed list of changes, by whom and when.

As I stated, having the right people in place is essential to good data governance. The data governance board sits at the top of the hierarchy and consists of a team of data governors that meet to discuss and address issues and topics surrounding data. The board roles include assuming ownership of the modern data warehouse to set strategic initiatives, removing bottlenecks and making the key decisions that benefit the organization.

Data governance board responsibilities include overseeing the modern data warehouse design, implementation and maintenance over time; evaluating and making decisions presented by data stewards; and to help facilitate corporate level decisions to add value and become a data driven organization.

Another important role is that of the data stewards. These roles are assigned for each domain (HR or sales for example) and may be domain knowledge experts, SMEs, or PMs. They serve a key role in the implementation of the data warehouse. Data stewards are often responsible for data quality within organizations, as well as the accuracy, completeness, and consistency of that data. In short, they understand the data better than anyone; they are tasked with the internal domain knowledge that may be overlooked by developers.

The third layer of people in the data governance hierarchy are the data custodians. This is basically anyone who has access the data or network. Data custodians consists of people from a variety of teams including IT, business intelligence and consultants. Their responsibilities include the safe custody and transportation of the data and implementations of business rules.

A data custodian’s team may consist of a data architect, DBA, data modeler, ETL developer, report developer and quality assurance members. They have access to the data and technical processes and work hand in hand with the data stewards.

For more on data governance, watch for my second in this series next week. If you’re interested in discussing data governance for your organization or if you want to learn more about Azure in general, our team of data experts are here to help. Whether you’re just starting to move to the cloud or need help to get to the next stage, contact us – we’ll help you use your data and the cloud to take your business from good to great.

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