Metadata Could Tame Unstructured Information

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Organisations are drowning in unstructured data – the only way to get control is metadata, says IDC

Organisations must find ways to impose a structure on the flood of unstructured data currently engulfing them, or else they will fall foul of governance rules and find attackers get access to poorly protected data, according to a report from analyst IDC.

The widespread use of collaborative content technologies is fuelling aggressive growth of unstructured and semi-structured data, according to the report, “Leveraging Metadata Framework Technology to Take Control of the Information Explosion”. It suggests that metadata framework technology, which classifies and organises the unstructured data will be essential to meet the latest data governance and protection strategies.

Data explosion tests governance

Sponsored by data governance software provider, Varonis Systems, the report stresses the growing importance of knowing who has access to data, is using their access or shouldn’t have access, as well as who owns the data, and what data is sensitive.

“The high-profile data breaches in the last three years demonstrate that organisations who fail to protect sensitive data will incur serious regulatory and legal liabilities, along with revenue and market share declines,” said Vivian Tero, governance, risk & compliance infrastructure program director at IDC.

The IDC report said part of the problem was that organisations were drowning in data, and forecast that high-value information will comprise close to 50 percent of the digital universe by the end of 2020.

It also found that the proportion of inactive and orphaned folders can be as high as 70 to 85 percent of the data in distributed systems. The majority of organisations have no process to identify the owner of files, and many are unable to determine which individuals and roles are authorised to access the data.

Metadata framework technology
Wendy Yale, senior director of worldwide marketing at Varonis, told eWEEKEurope UK that the research validated her company’s approach to managing and tracking data access.

She said Varonis’ Metadata Framework technology is designed to non-intrusively collect critical metadata about unstructured and semi-structured data.

“Our customers have the ability to completely standardise unstructured and semi-structured data protection and management for their file systems, NAS [network attached storage], SharePoint Sites and Exchange mailboxes and public folders,” Yale said.

In this way, organisations can effectively and automatically manage data access control, ownership, classification, entitlements and authorisation processes on the platforms that host unstructured and semi-structured data.

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