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An Ocean of Data: Securing Unstructured Data in the Cloud

In a previous article, SailPoint EVP of Product, Grady Summers, depicts two seismic trends posing significant problems and challenges within organizations today: the rapid adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) – mainly through Shadow IT – and the creation and movement of massive amounts of sensitive corporate data into the cloud. Grady justifiably asserts that both of these runaway problems require solutions that should be fully integrated with and governed from above through comprehensive, centralized, and intelligent identity security.

IGA, SaaS Management and unstructured data governance diagram.

Figure 1: A broad, powerful, and comprehensive IGA solution is a must for governing, informing, and being informed by SaaS Management (governing rapid SaaS adoption) and Unstructured Data Governance.

The focus of this article is on the second of those challenges facing organizations today: the creation and movement of massive amounts of sensitive corporate data into the cloud, essentially creating an ocean of data to successfully govern, manage, and navigate.

Boiling the Ocean

Previous to the worldwide COVID pandemic, it was common knowledge that data was being generated at incredible rates within enterprises, creating an ocean of data. Since the pandemic, however, it’s been clear that COVID has advanced digital transformation at a hitherto unexpected rate, catapulting organizations large and small into rapid SaaS adoption with the creation and massive movement of data into the cloud tethered to this adoption. Moreover, the vast majority of data being created today is unstructured with some estimates being 90% of created data being unstructured. 71% of businesses reported before COVID that unstructured data was growing at a faster rate than any other type of data within their organization.

Tracking the Sea of Change

With the post-COVID, near-frantic move to the cloud (taking place in large part to keep businesses from sinking), organizations and organizational leaders worldwide recently reported in a recent SailPoint-sponsored survey enormous challenges tacking to the sudden winds of change accelerated digital transformation has taken them with regard to unstructured data.

You can download the survey results to read about the specific challenges reported. But to summarize, a number of challenges clearly surfaced including:

  • Expressed lack of a single comprehensive, identity-focused solution across all unstructured data stores
  • Lack of visibility into data sensitivity, location, the velocity of changes, and who has access to all unstructured data
  • The unsustainability of manual processes as a control mechanism against these challenges

Navigating the Waters with Identity Security

As the undisputed worldwide leader in identity security for the last 15 years, SailPoint has long recognized and anticipated the growth and the subsequent challenges organizations are facing around unstructured data.

SailPoint solves these challenges by extending our identity security platform to include governance for unstructured data. We consider it part and parcel with how an organization can and should be governing their apps and structured data – it’s a comprehensive approach, and one any organization definitely requires today given all of the points I made above about how big this problem is. It’s through this approach that we provide organizations of all sizes the visibility, control, compliance, and remediation they need to effectively govern, manage, and navigate the ocean of unstructured data across the entire organization.

First and foremost, we answer the primary challenge organizations reported around visibility by working across and tying together all of the unstructured data stores within organizations, whether those stores be on premise or existing inside of multiple clouds. This allows us to provide clear visibility into data sensitivity, location, the velocity of changes, and who has access to what and where through a single pane of glass across the entire organization.

Figure 2: Govern and manage unstructured data across the entire organization, whether on premise or in multiple clouds.

SailPoint automatically controls and remediates access through a data ownership election and access normalization process that aligns to best practices, leverages real-time policies, actionable dashboarding, customized alerting, and manages access requests to all of an organization’s unstructured data. This automation removes the burden organizations reported, attempting to manually manage access – an error-prone process that cannot scale, exposing organizations to enormous risk.

SailPoint understands and provides compliance through insights (who is violating compliance controls?), access reviews (which permissions are stale or excessive?), and what-if analysis – a powerful feature that allows organizations to simulate and conduct impact analysis on what-if access before granting or revoking access.

And finally, SailPoint provides an answer to all of these challenges around unstructured data through the periscopic lens of identity, anchored together and governed by the SailPoint Identity Platform, a comprehensive view of identity within an organization.

Figure 3: A functional summary of one feature of the SailPoint Identity Platform

Bringing the Ship Home

A worldwide pandemic has greatly accelerated the rate at which organizations must adopt SaaS, leading to significant challenges effectively governing, managing, and navigating the ocean of unstructured data organizations are creating and moving to the cloud.

SailPoint has answered these challenges by providing an identity security platform that takes a comprehensive approach to governing access to all apps and all data, both structured and unstructured.  With SailPoint, organizations can overcome and directly address the challenges around the creation and movement of massive amounts of unstructured data into the cloud, allowing them to successfully navigate the rapid winds of change brought about by accelerated digital transformation.

Go here to download the report.