Business data stores are growing by as much as 65 percent annually, and a significant portion of that data is created, shared and maintained within the framework of Microsoft Office 365. All of the information stored in emails, OneDrive accounts and other Office 365 locations has costs and risks associated with it. That’s why data governance is a critical component of managing Office 365.
Studies have shown that as much as 85 percent of all data that is processed and stored is functionally useless. About 33 percent of data is considered redundant, obsolete or trivial, which means it is known to have no value. About 52 percent is considered “dark” data, which means its value is unknown. Orphaned data, which has no owner and therefore is not managed, is estimated to take up more than 5 percent of total storage capacity.
Storing data that has questionable or no value not only wastes money and resources, but also makes it more difficult to manage data that does have value. It also increases risks related to security, regulatory compliance and e-discovery.
Office 365 includes a suite of data governance tools to help organizations manage content across its life-cycle. Data governance helps to ensure the integrity and security of information by controlling how it’s accessed, used, protected, retained and disposed of. It imposes a quality-control discipline on data management that cuts storage costs, increases efficiency, improves compliance and reduces risk.
Office 365 makes it possible to assign a retention policy to various types of content. A retention policy defines how long data should be kept before it is automatically deleted or archived. This period can begin when the document was created, or when it was last modified. It can be applied to specific locations or document libraries, to content that contains sensitive information or specific keywords, or to entire sites.
(Office 365 retention policies were made available to Microsoft Teams in May. Administrators can now use the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center to set retention policies for Teams chats and channels. Previously, administrators had to create separate data governance policies for Teams.)
Retention policies can be applied to existing content as well as any new content that is created. Users can continue to work with their existing content as usual — if content is edited or deleted a copy is preserved in the Recoverable Items folder until the end of the retention period. Office 365 also includes versioning features that make it possible to retain multiple versions of a document as it is modified.
When applying retention policies to existing content, administrators can decide to simply delete content that’s older than the retention period. This can have a dramatic impact on users’ data, so it’s important to give users an opportunity to assess their content before applying such a policy.
There’s a good chance that multiple retention policies will be applied to content, and that each of those policies will have different retention periods. Generally speaking, the longest retention period wins. In addition, explicit policies win over implicit ones. Explicit policies include those manually applied to content or applied to a specific location or account. Implicit policies are those generally applied at the site level to all locations or accounts.
AdaptivEdge has assisted organizations in a wide range of industries in the development of effective data management policies and practices. We can help you leverage Office 365 data governance tools to apply those policies across the enterprise.
In our next post, we’ll look at how Office 365 labels help further refine data management and aid in data loss prevention.
Written and composed by Principal, Steve Soper