What is Data Sprawl and How to Manage it?

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Data sprawl can increase security risks and reduce employees' productivity. It also makes it difficult for organizations to stay compliant.

Every organization produces a huge amount of data from the SaaS apps they use. This data can range from customers' information, business transactions, messages, emails, etc. And this data resides in those SaaS apps. 

This data is very crucial for organizations as it is used for making many decisions, such as whether to terminate an app or renew it, rightsize the number of licenses, and provide training to employees who are facing issues with using the apps. 

As the amount of data increases, it is important to have systems and processes to store that data–so that it can be retrieved whenever required. 

When organizations fail to properly manage their data, it gives rise to different problems. Data sprawl is one of them. The proliferation of data across the organization, which makes it difficult to monitor and manage it, is known as data sprawl. 

The core reason for data sprawl at most modern organizations is SaaS sprawl. If you don't have control over your SaaS stack, you also lose control over the data residing in those apps.

Data sprawl gives rise to different problems. The most obvious problem is that it reduces the productivity of employees as they tend to spend more time searching/retrieving data. Security is another issue. 

When data spread across different places and organizations, they lack control over monitoring it. Any unauthorized user can access the data and misuse it. Furthermore, it also causes noncompliance, as when sensitive data is not managed properly, it violates the regulatory standards. 

The organization may be found to violate the HIPAA, GDPR, or other regulatory standards. This may cause hefty fines as well as many strict actions over the organization for not compliant with specific regulations.

The storage of data across different places such as the cloud, laptops, external drives, etc., is one of the causes of data sprawl. Employees also store some data on their own devices in those workplaces where BYOD (bring-your-own-devices) is allowed. This also causes data sprawl.

How to Manage Data Sprawl

How to Manage Data Sprawl

Proper data management increases employee productivity, reduces cybersecurity risks, and ensures that all sensitive data are protected. Organizations can use different practices to manage data sprawl. 

A comprehensive data access governance (DAG) needs to be established that provides all details about how data should be collected, processed, and stored. Further, it should contain information about access controls, risk management, compliance, and more. It is also important to ensure that all the relevant people are well informed about DAG. 

We have discussed some of the ways to manage data sprawl in your organization below.

  1. Centralize data storage: A major advantage of storing data at any central repository is that it can be quickly retrieved and increases the productivity of the employees. Cloud storage is becoming popular, and most organizations are storing data in the cloud. Another advantage of cloud storage is that employees can access data from anywhere and whenever they want. Further, cloud storage is secure, and vendors use different tools and technologies to ensure the safety of the data. Some cloud storage also keeps a copy of the data in other data centers as a backup.

  2. Discover and classify data: Another way to prevent data sprawl is to find out what data you have, where it is located, and who all has access to the data. This helps in the classification of the data as well as gives a picture of how data is managed. Discovering and manually classifying data can be tedious if your organization has a huge amount of data. You can use tools for data discovery and classification. A key advantage of data classification is that it categorizes different data based on their risk and sensitivity. This helps you to prevent data breaches by enabling different access controls on different data types.   

  3. Remove irrelevant and duplicate data: A lot of data that organizations store are either duplicate or redundant. To keep your data repositories clean and lean, removing these data is important. When you classify the data, you'll get an idea about how much duplicate data your organization has as the duplicate data gets classified under the same tag. Further, when you see it, there are different documents which are not used for a long time and also aren't needed for any specific purpose. You can create a redundant folder to store all such types of data. This helps you to retrieve them if it is needed in the future.

  4. Use a data security platform: Data security provides different insights which help in managing data sprawl. Insights like where your data is located, who all have access to the data, and how it is used. These are some of the insights which you can get from a data security platform. In simple terms, a data security platform gives a data-centric view of your organization's security. Using the information provided by a data security platform, you can make various decisions to prevent data sprawl as well as secure your organization's data. 

  5. Implement proper data life-cycle management: Planning and making a strategy for complete data life-cycle management helps in preventing data sprawl as well as increases employees' productivity. For example, you can create a folder system in such a way that all the current working data reside in a specific location from where users who all have access to it can swiftly retrieve it as and when required. Similarly, once the work is done and that project gets completed, the above data can be transferred to some other location that stores all the information about previous projects. This reduces the clutter as well as provides a better user experience. After a specific period, you can remove these data to a redundant or archive folder when the information is not needed anymore. From the archive, it can be retrieved when it is required.

Use Zluri to Manage SaaS Applications Data

Zluri is a SaaS management platform that enables organizations to gain complete control over their SaaS applications. With Zluri, organizations can automate various tasks like onboarding, offboarding, compliance management, etc. Some of the key features of Zluri are:

  • Discover and remove duplicate applications: Zluri discovers all the applications and helps to gain visibility of where all data is lying. After discovering and detecting duplicate applications, you can eliminate them and transfer the relevant data. This helps you to prevent data sprawl due to duplicate applications and shadow IT.

  • Automated employee onboarding & offboarding: Zluri has a powerful automation engine that enables organizations to give or revoke access to employees with a few clicks. Further, its contextual recommendation system provides information about which applications a new employee needs to be based on the department and seniority of their role. It also recommends different channels/groups to which an employee should be added. This helps in preventing SaaS sprawl as you can centrally manage access and revoke different applications.

  • Renewal Monitoring: With Zluri, you don't need to worry about surprise renewals. Zluri alerts about your upcoming renewals, giving you enough time to decide whether or not you need the app. You can decide that through the SaaS usage insights from Zluri.

  • Applications Cost Optimization: Zluri helps you standardize your applications and eliminate budget wastage. Zluri traces your SaaS ecosystem and monitors, measures, and helps you take control of your SaaS spend. It also helps you find the hidden apps spend.

  • Smooth Vendor Management: Zluri has an automated vendor management system with all the features needed to manage your SaaS stack. It maintains a SaaS system of record by integrating with your core business system, after which it prepares to maintain your vendor life cycle with your predefined workflows.


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The Ideal Cost Optimization Playbook to Control SaaS Spend

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An obese SaaS stack leads to SaaS wastage. It's a disease! It not only causes financial issues but also gives you security and compliance problems. That's why you must keep tight control on your SaaS stack. And it begins with managing your SaaS vendors. 

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