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HomeManageIdentity Governance vs. Data Governance: Why You Need Both

Identity Governance vs. Data Governance: Why You Need Both

As the rapid adoption of cloud technologies increased during the pandemic, security and compliance issues have continuously been put at the forefront of conversations.

Whether a startup or a big corporation, seamless productivity coupled with secure cloud protection is crucial to making today’s hybrid and remote setup work for your organization. While new processes may have improved, appropriate policies and governance must also be set in place to protect your business from risks posed by a complete or incremental shift to the cloud.

Not having control over your digital assets can put your company at risk and may hinder your IT department from fully realizing the value and power of the cloud. So, how should you handle your assets in a way that fuels productivity while implementing security?

Ultimately, you’ll want to focus on both governance and identity policies. You need proper governance so your end users can easily access your data to do their work while also setting up controls to make sure that your assets remain secure and risk-free. Meanwhile, securely managing identity and access will give your organization the protection it needs. In this blog post, we’ll compare identity governance vs data governance and see how important each is to the full governance picture.

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Identity Governance

When we get hired to help a company, we are given an identity—usually an email address—which we use to access corporate resources, content, and company assets that we need to accomplish our tasks.

Identity governance is mainly concerned with managing these identities to control access to assets and data. It ensures that only the right people have the right access to the right resources.

Identity governance is mainly concerned with three things:

  • Govern the identity lifecycle: How quickly can employees have access to what they need? How should their access change over time as they change their employment status? How about external guest users—what resources are they allowed to access and when should they be removed?
  • Govern access lifecycle: What’s the process of managing access beyond what was initially provisioned? How do you efficiently scale and develop access policies and controls on an ongoing basis?
  • Secure privileged access for administration: How do you govern employees, vendors, and contractors who have administration rights to ensure their privileged access is not abused or misused?

How Effective Is It?

Managing identities is crucial. If done well, you’ll be able to simultaneously protect your employees and put them at ease, making it easier for them to be as productive as possible. Be it password management, access requests, or any other governance type, they’re all worth investing in.

Automating some facets of identity governance can be especially helpful and save IT administrators time to put towards business needs of higher importance than fielding service requests all day. The Microsoft Authenticator app, for instance, streamlines two-factor authentication by sending a notification directly to an employee’s phone to confirm their access permissions. For more on passwordless authentication click here.

While there are obvious benefits to staying up-to-date with identity governance, it also has its ramifications and challenges, including the various mistakes admins are bound to make. Many are still struggling to fine-tune their access lifecycles amidst the constant traffic of users joining and leaving their companies. Is your company prepared to navigate such constant change?

data management

Data Governance

While identity governance deals with identity and access management, data governance highlights overall control and configurations when securely managing data.

Put simply, Data Governance is involved with managing data as a strategic asset by ensuring and setting up controls around data, its content, how it’s structured and used, and how safe it is being handled.

Furthermore, it promotes visibility by ensuring that IT knows what data exists, whether data is of good quality or usable, who has access to it and if they’re using it, what it’s being used for, and that it’s secure, compliant, and governed.

As an umbrella term, data governance encapsulates all things relating to securing and managing data—not only making sure that the right people have access to the right resources, but also that your data lives in a secure environment and that it is being handled in compliance with any regulations (such as GDPR).

How Effective Is It?

Although Microsoft acknowledges that previous data governance tools had gaps, the rise of machine automation and artificial intelligence have sparked new programs that transform how data governance is being implemented.

Today, the risks posed by the staggering growth of data in the cloud are intercepted with scalable and automated controls built with the new tools’ data architecture and lifecycle health which empowers administrators.

These innovations, enhanced by third-party tools like AvePoint Cloud Governance, which offers sustainable operational governance for Microsoft 365, seamlessly integrate with Microsoft tools such as Power BI and proactively enforce policies to ensure you’re staying secure and compliant. They can also be leveraged for powerful data governance programs that comprehensively protect your cloud assets.

With new and innovative tools that highlight automation, a rich suite of access controls, cluster configurations, and robust logs on actions and operations, end users are empowered to be more productive while IT administrators can monitor with ease.

data management


In today’s era where data is king and is a strategic asset for digital transformation, unlocking the power of data to provide meaningful insights and drive better business outcomes is crucial.

At the end of the day, your organization should have certain role-based access and permissions in addition to more granular controls over content. It becomes a problem when you overly rely on either; either things are too restrictive on the identity side and people are constantly having to ask for permissions, or you’re so heavy-handed with data governance that people are (once again) constantly having to gain permissions to access content and do their jobs.

The ideal form of governance needs to ensure that employees from the appropriate project or team can find and access the content they need, but it also needs to ensure that sensitivity labels are correctly applied and that those roles give the proper level of access. Identity governance and data governance are two halves of a cohesive whole, and organizations need both in equal measure.

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Sherian Batallones
Sherian Batallones
Sherian Batallones is a Content Marketing Specialist at AvePoint, covering AvePoint and Microsoft solutions, including SaaS management, governance, backup, and data management. She believes organizations can scale their cloud management, collaboration, and security by finding the right digital transformation technology and partner.

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