This week, Microsoft released two new Advanced Data Governance Features that close significant gaps in their ability to deliver enterprise-ready retention in their Office 365 platform. Specifically, they released the ability to define events that trigger retention and a new Label Explorer to gain greater insights into labeling activities.
New Event-based Retention
Very simply, event-based retention refers to retaining information based on the occurrence of an event. Events typically refer to some activity that initiates the start of a retention period. Events may come in the form of business activities such as employee termination or sale of an asset. They may also come in the form of some type of status change to the information such as a document being superseded.
Microsoft’s Advanced Data Governance (ADG) capabilities were originally released supporting retention duration being calculated from three possible dates: creation date, modified date or labeled date. With this update, Microsoft’s ADG features now support the definition of an occurrence of an organizationally defined event.
This new feature is significant as now Microsoft’s capabilities will now support a broader range of retention policy definitions. Many organization’s retention policies are defined using some type of event triggering the retention period. Lack of this functionality left many organizations struggling to determine how they were going to implement their policies within the Microsoft ADG environment.
Microsoft’s implementation for event-based retention uses a concept of Event Type, which represents an organization of these external or information conditions. When a specific event occurs, an event instance is created with the instance date and, ideally, with a unique identifier used to select the information on which to trigger the retention. Through this organization of Event Types and Event Instances, management of events becomes easier and more streamlined. Organizations can trigger retention to many items through the creation of a single instance.
With my relationship with Microsoft’s Data Governance team, I have been privileged to work with this new feature in preview and have successfully integrated the triggering process into SAP generated events, such as an employee termination.
Label Explorer provides Labeling Insights
When Microsoft’s ADG capabilities, specifically retention labeling, it was difficult to impossible to determine where and how Labels were being used. With this latest update, Microsoft has provided a very useful feature to assist with the management of Labels within your organization.
The Label Explorer provides insights into how Labels are being used across your Office 365 tenant, giving compliance managers visibility into label use and changes.
The Label Explorer offers a high level of granularity to display and report on the use of labels. Reporting on label use by label, user, file or folder is provided in a dynamic bar chart by date. This insight gives a visual representation of how often labels are being used and the types of files labels are being applied.
There is also an activity log of all Label application and modifications. This listing provides deep insights into all label activities on a file-by-file basis.
This area of the Label Explorer is of critical importance since it identifies specific changes to labels on individual files and the history of those label changes. With this report, a compliance manager can easily see where and when a label has been removed or changed.
Microsoft Closing the Gaps
I applaud Microsoft for listening to their customers and moving to fill critical gaps in their service offering. These efforts provide organizations with critical capabilities to ensure that information is protected and compliant with a wide range of business policies.