Scaling Secure Data Access Management and Use with Immuta Domains

One of the most persistent challenges modern data-driven organizations face is the divide between IT teams and business units. With data ownership largely in one camp and data use in the other, this gap hinders effective data collaboration, resulting in disjointed efforts and missed business opportunities.

At the heart of this divide lies the struggle to balance stringent data security and compliance requirements with the pressing need for accessibility and usability. This challenge is even more difficult for organizations looking to implement a data mesh architecture, which relies on decentralization. To bridge this divide, de-risk data, and align data owners with data users, we’re excited to announce the general availability of Domains in the Immuta Data Security Platform.

Domains represent more than just a change in the delegation of data ownership and access control – they exemplify how IT and business units collaborate to protect sensitive data while enabling data-driven decision-making. In this blog, we’ll dig into the inherent challenges posed by the IT/business gap, explore how Domains act as a catalyst for collaboration, and examine the transformative impact they will have on organizational efficiency and innovation.

Addressing The IT & Business Unit Gap

Data security requirements have evolved past simple platform-specific actions, towards a decentralized, federated governance and security model. This is a significant adjustment, as data security has traditionally been a centralized effort for many organizations. In a centralized model, IT or data team administrators create, implement, and manage global policies that govern data access and use across all of their organization’s teams and data-driven efforts.

While a centralized security model does afford a great deal of consistency, it is becoming increasingly untenable for today’s teams. As data sets, platforms, and users proliferate, centralized controls are a bottleneck that constricts data use and inhibits timely insights.

These bottlenecks exacerbate the disconnect between IT teams who control access, and the business users who make use of the data. IT becomes overburdened with access requests, users’ projects stall out, and businesses aren’t able to maintain a competitive edge.

Even so, completely opening up data access without implementing effective controls is unrealistic. Without some form of data access governance, your data is subject to an immense amount of risk – from leaks, to data breaches, to general misuse, and beyond.

What can modern teams do to bridge this growing divide without creating unnecessary risk?

Secure Domains for Decentralized Data Management

A common approach to bridging this divide is to decentralize data management. By distributing data management in a manner that maintains data security, you unlock self-service access, eliminate the bottlenecks of centralized management, and streamline data utility.

Immuta Domains empower you to decentralize data access management and federate data governance. This allows data owners to define access policies tailored to specific domains, rather than being subject to context-agnostic global controls coordinated by centralized teams.

A Domain consists of:

  • A grouping of data assets according to a well-defined structure, and
  • A set of users who can manage access to data assets in that Domain

Whether used for a specific business unit, geographic region, or project team, each Domain can be constructed to mirror existing groups that are logical for your organization. For example, an organization with both customer-specific and larger campaign-driven marketing could make tactic-specific data products for each of these approaches within a larger  marketing domain. This enables users with project-relevant data from a reliable, secure marketing data source.

Domain owners can then enforce granular control over access and utilization for their own data, using dynamic attribute-based access controls to govern which users can access which data for which purposes. Global policies and local domain policies coexist, ensuring that all data is both protected and accessible in a manner consistent with your organization’s overarching and domain-specific needs.

Consider, for example, a pharmaceutical company that is conducting a clinical trial across a number of geographic regions. While data would need to be amalgamated from across these regions to analyze trial progress and results, not all patient data should be accessible for all researchers. Domains allow this organization to effortlessly grant and restrict access to specific trial data, ensuring it’s only accessible to relevant stakeholders within designated regional domains.

Benefits of Immuta Domains

Other than enabling secure, self-service data use, Domains provide a range of additional benefits, including:

  • Scale: Domains enable policy authors to focus on specific areas, streamlining policy management and scaling data access control across an organization rather than restricting it to a central team.
  • Empowerment: By shifting control to data owners, Domains ensure policies are aligned with their data’s context and usage, empowering stakeholders to manage access effectively and enabling distributed data mesh architectures.
  • Speed: Domains allow changes to data access policies to be implemented swiftly, without unintended consequences for other areas of the business. Immuta’s intuitive plain-language policy builder simplifies this process even further, enabling rapid policy authoring and maintenance.

The benefits that Domains provide span across an organization’s various teams. However, the following users are most likely to experience the most immediate impact:

  • Data Platform Owners: Delegating policy definition to domain-specific stakeholders reduces the burden of centralized control. This allows platform owners to remove bottlenecks, and foster a more scalable and efficient approach to data governance for the whole organization.
  • Data Governors: Empowered with the responsibility of authoring domain-specific policies, data governors ensure that access control aligns with business requirements and regulatory standards.

Best Practices for Domain Implementation

Domain implementation is as much an organizational change as it is an architectural adjustment. Striking this balance is crucial – organizing Domains won’t suffice if they are not integrated  into your company’s daily operations and culture. This requires equal emphasis on:

Understanding & Governing Your Data

Creating and leveraging Domains is completely dependent on understanding your organization’s data. Any Domain-based project begins with gathering information on what data assets your organization manages, and for which purposes. With this baseline knowledge, your team can build a Domain structure organized around these data types, use cases, etc. – however it makes the most sense for you to manage.

From here, your team will need to build or adjust your data governance architecture to support these project-, region-, or team-specific data groupings and ensure they are governed by necessary controls. This requires coordinating the many moving parts of your data stack – storage, compute, business intelligence, and other platforms – in order to ensure that the right data is being owned and accessed by the right users.

Most importantly, Domains must be governed in a manner that enables both global and local controls. By incorporating sensitive data discovery, a dynamic access control framework, and continuous data monitoring with Immuta, you’ll be able to create and leverage Immuta Domains securely and confidently.

Effective Change Management

At the end of the day, constructing a decentralized Domain-based framework would be useless without effective organizational training and enablement. For teams who are used to the inefficient, bottlenecked world of centralized controls, Domains open up massive self-service potential – as well as the potential for misuse. If you try to decentralize your data without thinking about change management, you will almost certainly fail.

Domain owners must be brought up to speed on their new responsibilities. While they likely know their data better than anyone in your organization, they may not be used to managing Domain-based data products, prioritizing competing data initiatives, and gatekeeping data access. They need to know how to create, set, and maintain data use standards and local access controls in order to keep their data secure while enabling access for a larger number of potential users.

Getting Started with Domains

Domains open up a world of new data-driven insights and opportunities for your users – and if done securely, they can provide a wealth of new, de-risked value for your business.

If you’d like to get started with your own Immuta Domains, watch the video below and connect with our team today.


Learn more about Immuta Domains

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