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New Informatica governance suite automates data access

The vendor's new suite of AI-powered capabilities manage access to an enterprise's proprietary information to help ensure security and compliance while enabling analysis.

Informatica has launched Cloud Data Access Management, an AI-powered set of governance tools that automate data access.

The new suite, which Informatica unveiled on Feb. 29 and is generally available, is the direct result of the vendor's June 2023 acquisition of Privitar.

Privitar was a 2014 startup whose platform addressed the safe use of data. Its features both enabled collaboration while making sure data is kept private and secure and only used by those with proper authorization.

Those capabilities now form the basis for Cloud Data Access Management (CDAM). In addition, the new set of data governance tools is integrated with Claire, an AI engine developed by Informatica that includes generative AI capabilities.

There is often a dissonance between data intelligence such as metadata in support of data governance and data security, noted Stewart Bond, an analyst at IDC. CDAM addresses that separation, relieving IT staff of the burden, and is therefore a significant addition for Informatica customers.

"One of the biggest gaps that exists in the market is the connection between data intelligence and data security solutions," Bond said. "Informatica Cloud Data Access Management adds data access security to data intelligence capabilities in one platform."

Based in Redwood City, Calif., Informatica is a data management vendor. Its main platform is the Intelligent Data Management Cloud. Claire, meanwhile, was first introduced in 2017 and is an AI and machine learning engine that is integrated throughout the Intelligent Data Management Cloud.

Claire GPT, the generative AI piece of Claire, was revealed in May 2023 and remains in preview.

New capabilities

Data access controls are critical to the safety and security of proprietary data.

In particular, data access controls are crucial for organizations that deploy self-service analytics platforms that enable business users to work with data without first having to submit requests to a centralized data team.

Not all employees within enterprises are legally permitted to view all data and not all data can be used in its original form. For example, federal regulations restrict who can view personally identifiable information (PII) and how that data can be consumed.

Only people in certain positions, such as human resources staff, can view PII such as a social security number. In addition, information that directly links a person with indirect information such as race and gender must be hidden so that such data can be used on an aggregate but not individual basis.

To ensure that sensitive data can only be accessed by those with the proper credentials while simultaneously enabling employees to work confidently with the data they can access, organizations have developed data governance frameworks.

Included in those frameworks are data access controls.

Meanwhile, to help organizations develop those data governance frameworks, vendors such as Informatica and rivals Alation and Collibra, among others, have included data governance tools as part of their platforms.

CDAM represents an addition to Informatica's data governance capabilities, specifically adding tools that enable customers to automatically assign data access controls to their proprietary data.

The suite is designed to accelerate access to trusted data, reduce costs related to compliance, lower the risk of data misuse, simplify the process of controlling data across complex data systems and automate self-service access to myriad data sources, according to Informatica.

The new suite includes the following:

  • Intuitive policy authoring to make it easier for data administrators to implement data access controls.
  • Use of Claire's AI capabilities to automatically classify sensitive information across large data sets to identify personal records, PII and financial records.
  • Full integration with Informatica's Cloud Data Integration and Cloud Data Marketplace to provide automated controls on data use and data sharing.
  • Policy enforcement and auditing capabilities that aim to improve data privacy, security and other data management across diverse data environments.

Kevin Petrie, an analyst at Eckerson Group, noted that data access management is not new.

However, as data use increases with the number of platforms deployed by organizations, the number of users within those organizations and applications for data use all growing, the demand of access controls are also growing. In particular, setting limitations on who can work with sensitive data is critical.

As a result, CDAM is a significant addition for Informatica's customers, according to Petrie.

"This announcement extends Informatica's capabilities for controlling usage of sensitive data, which helps allay the privacy concerns that we're hearing about from so many practitioners as they evaluate AI, machine learning and GenAI," he said.

One noteworthy benefit of CDAM is that it's part of Informatica's larger data management and governance portfolio, which means customers don't have to add data access controls from another vendor or develop them in-house, Petrie added.

"Enterprises need to control, secure, validate, prepare, master, and observe multi-structured data as part of a governed framework," he said. "The more they can do that with a single vendor, the better."

Bond, meanwhile, noted that a significant aspect of CDAM is its potential to make data sharing more widespread.

Treating data as a product is a growing trend wherein data engineers make data products such as models and reports available in a marketplace such as the Informatica Data Marketplace where they can be put in a cart and checked out by data consumers.

One of the biggest gaps that exists in the market is the connection between data intelligence and data security solutions. Informatica Cloud Data Access Management adds data access security to data intelligence capabilities in one platform.
Stewart BondAnalyst, IDC

By providing new data access controls, the check-out process can be simplified, Bond noted.

"This new offering has a lot of potential to improve data sharing in the enterprise via the Informatica Data Marketplace," Bond said. "The checkout process provides the user with access to the product after appropriate approvals have been cleared. Now managing the checkout process no longer needs to be done in an external access management system."

Meanwhile, data access controls such as those in Informatica's new suite are unique among data management vendors, Bond continued.

"Few data management software vendors have data access security capabilities," he said.

Informatica's impetus for developing CDAM stemmed from its recognition of a need to strengthen the privacy layer of its platform, according to Jitesh Ghai, the vendor's chief product officer.

Informatica already provided governance and privacy controls. But the new offering improves on those with greater data access management so users can ensure their data can be trusted as well as responsibly share and consume data.

"With our customers, there was an operational need for data access management," Ghai said. "Organizations need controls that drive trusted and policy-compliant data access for all business users and use cases, but legacy privacy tools do not scale with the flexibility modern enterprises require."

Next steps

With the first generally available version of CDAM now part of the Intelligent Data Management Cloud, Informatica plans to continue improving the new set of access management tools by adding new capabilities, according to the vendor.

Specifically, Informatica said it intends to advance CDAM's metadata interoperability with its Cloud Data Governance and data catalog, add data access that is enforceable at both the data and metadata layers as well as provide policy enforcement capabilities in the data tier for data platforms customers use in concert with Informatica.

Bond, meanwhile, said that Informatica would be wise to expand its data management capabilities to unstructured data such as text, video and audio files.

The vendor has historically focused on structured data, such as financial records. But structured data only represents about 20% of all data; unstructured data accounts for the rest.

As enterprises build AI models, including generative AI, unstructured data is a valuable source for training accurate models that can understand the needs of an individual business.

"If Informatica wants to be the data management platform for the enterprise, it needs to improve capabilities in working with and taking control of unstructured data," Bond said.

Eric Avidon is a senior news writer for TechTarget Editorial and a journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He covers analytics and data management.

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