Give Managers Insight

Give Managers Insight into Their Teams’ File Service Use


The IT department is responsible for providing and continuously developing the file service. The organization’s employees are responsible for how they use it. In most organizations, knowledge of what is stored is compartmentalized and short-lived, with managers having only a limited understanding of what data their teams are storing, and where. Without oversight, file service use becomes chaotic and exposes the organization to unnecessary costs and risks.

Northern’s software solution (NSS) can be quickly configured to summarize individual teams’, departments’, projects’, etc. file service usage, and present this information (including Key Risk and Key Performance Indicators) to individuals who are responsible for this data. Very large data footprints can be parsed, across geographical regions, and including multiple platforms (traditional on-premise file storage, SharePoint, SharePoint Online, O365, other cloud platforms, Exchange Online, etc.).

By giving managers insight into their teams’ file service use, the organization will:

  • Fuel the process of making senior individuals aware of their data governance responsibilities
  • Enable those individuals to guide their team(s) use of the file service, and ensure that it is used appropriately
  • Drive change in the organization’s culture; make data governance a component of everyday activities
  • Simplify workflows for the IT department, with an automated and self-service process to provide insight
  • Reduce costs by triggering data clean-up activities and controlling growth
  • Reduce risks as data stored contrary to regulations is exposed and mitigated
  • Reduce risks as data is better organized and sensitive data more clearly identifiable

Northern is currently providing some of the world’s leading organizations with this type of solution, and enabling them to realize these values. Contact your Account Manager or the Professional Services team to schedule configuration in your environment.


Shared folders/sites/mailboxes are created for different departments, teams, and projects. Managers have a responsibility to ensure proper governance of their team’s data and they’re to do this actively, but they lack information necessary to do so. The result is that shared storage is growing organically, with little or no action taken to govern the content.

The organization can be exposed to unnecessary and unmanaged risks:

  • Failure to maintain a working knowledge of what a team is storing can quickly lead to a state of non-compliance
  • Sensitive data can be stored in inappropriate locations – in conflict with internal directives
  • Data subject to retention periods can be neglected – exposing the organization to legal risk
  • A chaotic data footprint increases the risk of negligent and inadvertent data breaches

The organization is burdened with unnecessary costs:

  • Unmanaged storage objects are estimated to contain only 15% business critical data*
  • Primary, secondary, disaster recovery, and backup storage is consumed by worthless files
  • Staff are unknowingly investing time in protecting and maintaining access to these worthless files
  • Migration and transformation projects are, unnecessarily, made more complex and expensive
  • Productivity is not optimized; time is wasted searching for the right data or work is repeated

* Veritas Global Databerg Report

This situation continues to exist in most organizations due to specific challenges:

  • It is difficult to identify a straightforward and repeatable way to visualize usage patterns for shared folders
  • Highlighting usage that conflicts with internal policies and good practice is technically complex
  • Highlighting usage that conflicts with legal requirements is equally complex
  • Enabling group managers to access this information, in a secure way, can require large amounts of manual work
  • It is vital, and difficult, to get group managers to act without requiring that they invest lots of their time
  • Measuring the effectiveness of such a strategy; it’s effect on storage use and risk exposure, can be complex

Northern offers a way to overcome these challenges.

Northern Solution

The diagram and explanation below shows the workflow implemented in the organization, using NSS, to provide managers with information about their teams’ file service use:
  1. NSS Scans the file system to identify file service usage patterns, and stores the results in the SQL database.
  2. Department Managers and Admins are reminded to review current usage patterns, trends, etc. at relevant times.
  3. Department Managers can view information for their team(s) in NSS’ self-service web interface
  4. IT Admins can view information for all departments, enabling them to assist in guiding actions, review who is using the information, how they are using it, etc.

Key Performance Indicators Established

The number of files stored in each team’s file shares, and the total size of these files, are established as a Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs can be used to establish controls; requiring action when set thresholds are reached. They are also tracked over-time to allow comparison and measure levels of success.
The table below shows the tasks involved in implementing this Northern solution, the time required, and who is responsible to perform each task:
1Import configuration settings0.5 hoursNorthern
2Run analyses in environment and verify resultsVaries*Automated
3Set up Access Rules for department managers1 hourCustomer and Northern
4Configure Quarantine if managers should be able to quarantine files1-4 hoursCustomer and Northern
5Send welcome mail to each manager with instructions and link to self-service portal1-4 hoursCustomer and Northern
6Train IT department in common end user troubleshooting1-2 hoursCustomer and Northern
7Measure success by calculating volume of deleted or quarantined data and numbers of files1 hourNorthern
* Expect scan speeds of approximately 2000 files per second. An environment with 100 million files will take approximately 14 hours to scan.

The implementation of this solution requires minimal investment by the organization and, by providing Managers with insight into how their team(s) are using the file service, the organization will achieve real value.

  • Senior individuals are made more keenly aware of their data governance responsibilities
  • These individuals can guide their team(s) use of the file service, and guarantee that it is used appropriately
  • Change is triggered in the organization’s culture; data governance becomes a component of everyday activities
  • Workflows are simplified for the IT department, with an automated and self-service process to provide insight
  • Costs are reduced as data footprint is reduced and growth is controlled
  • Risks are reduced as data stored contrary to regulations is exposed and mitigated
  • Risks are reduced as data is better organized and sensitive data more clearly identifiable
NSS DeployedVersion 9.91 or later
SQL DatabaseSQL Server 2012 or later
NSS Solution Area(s)Centralized File Service Management (CFSM)
Distributed Data Management (DDM)

More of what we deliver

Reduce risk

Security breaches, cyber-crime and data privacy regulation – your organization’s data will inevitably contain sensitive information.

Reduce cost

Storing your organization’s data is costly, especially when considering all expenses associated with housing the data.

Increase efficiency

Efficiency of those owning and being dependent of the data decreases as it becomes increasingly chaotic.

Corporate responsibility

Pressure mounts on all organizations to take more social responsibility – IT services, internal or external, need to incorporate capabilities facilitating CSR.
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Get started

If you wish to start using NSS to identify and remove redundant, IT-related files, please contact your Account Manager, or the Professional Services team, to schedule the first action: import configuration settings.

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