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Azure NetApp Files (ANF) is emerging as a powerful solution for the migration of NFS workloads and SMB file share services into a cloud-native solution. Northern has been working with a long-standing UK customer to ensure that their current Data Governance practices can seamlessly encompass SMB and NFS data stored in a new ANF environment; governing the use of this new data repository just as they do their current on-premise data and OneDrives.

Provide a decision basis for a centralized Data Governance team.
Enable this team to compare use of the file service against the organization’s policies and directives (some founded on law, some on ethical norms, some driven by security needs) and to identify deficiencies.

Enable the secure distribution of actionable intelligence to data owners.
Provide the managers and users who have responsibility for affected files to correct deficiencies; to align their use of the file service with the organization’s policies and directives.

Working with this customer, Northern demonstrated the relevant capabilities of its software solution (NSS) within ANF:

Analysis of file service use through interrogation of file meta-data.
Summarizing usage by:

  • Path size (bytes and file count)
  • Path size change over time, and share of total change
  • Distribution of data between file type categories
  • File type category change over time
  • Distribution of data between file owners
  • Owner change over time and share of total change
  • Data age distribution (three classifications “Old”, “Dormant”, “Active”)
  • Path-level data age distribution
  • Folder and file-level permissions configuration

Analysis of file service use through interrogation of file content.
Identifying files that contained:

  • UK Postcodes together with other words/strings that could identify an individual
  • Evidence of Criminal Record information together with other words/strings that could identify an individual
  • Evidence of Trade Union membership information together with other words/strings that could identify an individual
  • UK Passport Numbers together with other words/strings that could identify an individual
  • Evidence of UK Driving License information together with other words/strings that could identify an individual
  • UK VAT Numbers
  • National Health Service Numbers together with other words/strings that could identify an individual
  • Payment card (PCI) information together with other words/strings that could identify an individual
  • UK National Health Service Numbers together with other words/strings that could identify an individual
  • Strings that match the requirements of a complex password, together with other words/strings that point to it being an actual password

Secure distribution of access to analysis results to individuals and groups.

  • Following standard Role-based Access Control models for data segregation and access to software features
  • Including the ability to perform actions on files from within analysis result displays

Infrastructure Requirements

The infrastructure requirements to analyze file data held in Azure NetApp Files are straightforward, and the Credentials feature of NSS reduces the complexity of securing an ID with relevant privileges to collect this information. The following diagram gives an overview of the components involved and the configuration of each.

For more information about how you could use NSS to build robust Data Governance practices that include file storage in Azure NetApp Files, contact proservices@northern.net.

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