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How to manage data governance in the cloud vs. on-premise

Data governance involves developing strategies and practices to ensure high-quality data throughout its lifecycle.

However, besides deciding how to manage data governance, organizations must choose whether to apply the respective principles in an on-premise setting or the cloud.

Here are four pointers to help:

Choose on-premise when third-party misconduct Is a concern
One of the goals of data governance is to determine the best ways to keep data safe. That's why data safety comes into the picture when people choose cloud-based or on-premise solutions. If an organization has sensitive data like health information and security executives are worried about a third party not abiding by data governance policies, an on-premise solution could be the best choice.

Third-party cloud providers must abide by regulations for storing health data, but they still make mistakes. Some companies offer tools that let an organization determine a cloud company's level of risk and see the safeguards it has in place to prevent data breaches. A security exec may consider using one of those to assess whether third-party misconduct is a valid concern as it strives to maintain data governance best practices.

One thing to keep in mind is that the shortcomings of third-party companies could cause long-term damage for an organization's reputation. For example, in a case where a cloud provider has a misconfigured server that allows a data breach to happen, they're to blame. But, the headlines about the incident will likely primarily feature an organization's brand and may only mention the outside company in a passing sentence.

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If an organization opts for on-premise data governance, it will be in the spotlight if something goes wrong, but it's also possible to exert more control over all facets of data governance to promote consistency. When you need scalability, cloud-based technology typically allows you to ramp up faster, but you shouldn't do that at the expense of a possible third-party blunder.

Select cloud-based data governance data governance is lacking
Implementing a data governance program is a time-consuming but worthwhile process. A data governance maturity assessment model can be useful for seeing how an organization's approach to data governance stacks up to industry-wide best practices. It can also identify gaps to illuminate what has to happen for ongoing progress to occur.

Using a data governance maturity assessment model also can signal to stakeholders that data governance is a priority within an organization. However, if assessments show the organization has a long way to go before it can adhere to best practices, cloud-based data governance could be the right choice.

That's because the leading cloud providers have their own in-house data governance strategies in place. They shouldn't replace the ones used in-house at an organization, but it could help fill in the known gaps while improving overall data governance.

Go with on-premise if you want ownership
One of the things that organizations often don't like about using a cloud provider for data governance is that they don't have ownership of the software. Instead, they usually enter into a leasing agreement, similarly to leasing an automobile. So, if complete control over the software is essential, on-premise is the only possibility that enables that ownership.

One thing to keep in mind about on-premise data governance is that the organization is responsible for data security. As such, it needs protocols in place to keep software updated against the latest security threats.

Cloud providers usually update their software more frequently than you might in an on-premise scenario. That means you have to be especially proactive about dealing with known security flaws in outdated software. Indeed, on-premise data governance has the benefit of ownership, but your organization has to be ready to accept all the responsibility that option brings.

Specialized data governance tools are advantageous in both cases
No matter which of these directions that is chosen, specialty software can help you get a handle on data access, storage, usage and more. For example, software exists to help companies manage their data lakes whether they are on the premises or in the cloud. Those tools can sync with third-party sources of data to enable monitoring of all the data from a single interface. Moreover, they can track metadata changes, enabling users to become more aware of data categorization strategies.

Regardless of whether you ultimately decide it's best to manage data governance through an on-premise solution or in the cloud, take the necessary time to investigate data governance tools. They could give an organization insights that are particularly useful during compliance audits or as it starts using data in new ways.

Evaluate the tradeoffs
As you figure out if it's better to entrust data governance to a cloud company or handle it on-site, don't forget that each option has pros and cons.

Cloud companies offer convenience, but only if their data governance principles align with your needs. And, if customization is one of your top concerns, on-premise data governance gives you the most flexibility to make tweaks as your company evolves.

Studying the advantages and disadvantages of these options carefully before making a decision should allow you to get maximally informed about how to accommodate for your company's present and future needs.

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