First, let’s explore exactly what Azure Purview is. Azure Purview is a unified data governance tool. It solves challenges pertaining to finding information, reducing duplication, managing change and helping breakdown silos of data. Previously, organisations either needed to put in manual processes or invest in third party tools. A manual approach was often difficult, incomplete and out-of-date. Use of third-party tools was hard to justify business value and usually out of reach of many budgets except for top-tier enterprises.
Azure Purview is a new cloud native service that can be scaled to meet the growing data needs of organisations, and provides flexibility for bringing together on-premises and cloud based datasets.
In one recent conversation with a customer, they expressed the need to be able to understand data lineage between Power BI Reports and the underlying data sources. For the uninitiated, data lineage is a term used to describe, record and visualise the relationships and flow of data from data sources to where it is consumed, such as Power BI. Data lineage is commonly used to help support quality, trust and audit requirements. Specifically for this customer, it was ideally going to help document and understand dependent data assets so they could manage the data ecosystem and changes to it more effectively.
Another common use case is that customers need the ability to provide self-service reporting capabilities to their business users. The challenge is to provide a single source of truth, and or a data catalogue around all the available information that can be used within the organisation. Azure Purview provides the ability for business users to search and find information that they may otherwise have known existed. Search results can be filtered, as well as be augmented with additional metadata about the data assets that have been inventoried by Azure Purview. An example of metadata against a data source is tagging of owners, often referred to as a data steward or custodian. In addition, organisation-specific business terms can be captured in a single glossary and associated to datasets. This provides the benefit for searching against organisational domain-specific or industry terms.
Azure Purview can also be used to help organisations with their data governance requirements. Traditionally, data governance requires a dedicated focus of people to develop processes and tools to manage their data estate. It is often very costly and time-consuming exercise, involving many aspects of the enterprise. The benefits from embarking on a data governance program may not be realised for a long time, which makes it tough to show a good return on investment. Azure Purview can help simplify this experience.
One of the key steps for any data governance project is to do a discovery on the data assets. Azure Purview can be deployed to help build an inventory and provide insights about the data available within an organisation relatively quickly. As a cloud service, the need for an upfront capital expenditure for a third-party tool is negated. Azure Purview can help inform data governance teams to identify and prioritise the policies and actions required. This assists data governance teams also to respond quickly to changing business priorities. For example, an organisation may need to report on PCI compliance, and identify where credit card numbers may be stored. Azure Purview has built in classification features to let you identify where this type of information may be stored. Many common classifications exist including predefined country-specific terms, for example an Australian Business Number or Australian Tax File Number. Organisations can create their own classifications also and is an approach that leverages Azure Purview features to helps focus and accelerate overall data governance programmes.
Azure Purview is an exciting new offering for customers of all sizes. It helps address different business scenarios around the use and management of data. I believe that by making data more manageable and accessible, it helps improve an organisations overall data culture. We are able to find data we may not have known existed, reduce waste from copying data in multiple places, and open potential insights by using different data sets to help with improving overall decision making.
To find out more, I recommend watching a webinar that Data#3 has produced in conjunction with Microsoft, A deep dive into Azure Purview. We have included two demos – the first focused on deployment of Azure Purview, and the second showcasing the usage and application for sample data sets. An index is provided to help you examine specific interest areas of this tool.