So when you delete a record, that deletion won't be propagated to each and every version that was ever stored on the system. The record or file will disappear from view, but that doesn't mean it's been expunged.
Why do you care? Next time you go through a legal discovery process, the smart opposing council will hire a forensic expert witness to look through all the files and records you thought had been deleted. Have fun with that.
Lesson #2: Data in the Cloud Needs a Steward
Since your data is always more valuable than the system that stores it, the data in the cloud needs a data steward. This isn't a system administrator; rather, it's a business analyst who can do the following:
-Say what data should and, more importantly, should not be stored in the cloud. This will help you avoid a discovery problem, a PCI audit, a HIPAA or FERPA or (name your favorite acronym) compliance problem.
-Be the custodian of the meaning of data. You know, little things such as "What's a customer?" or "What's the significance of an overdue Severity 1 Case?"
-Establish naming conventions and trees for files, directories and other hierarchical relationships, such as "parent account" vs. "operating division."
-Serve as the gatekeeper for imports and data that flows across systems, making sure that semantics don't get blurred and that pollution sources are filtered or corrected at the source.
-Develop the right procedures for backups, record merges or the creation of parent-child relationships. You wouldn't believe how many ways there are to get this wrong-and how many weeks of wasted effort can occur due to a well-intentioned error.
-Validate the results of reports, making sure the right variables have been used for filtering, grouping and rollups. Too often, different vice presidents base their decisions on totally different data, causing no end of confusion.
The good news is that data stewardship isn't a full-time job. The bad news is that the data steward has to have a pretty good range of political and technical savvy. Typically, this is a position you should recruit for inside, rather than outside. If you can't find one person to do it, have a pair of people who are rotated into and out of the position no more often than once a year.
But data stewardship is only half the battle.
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