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What is Microsoft Azure Purview

| Written by Altlaw

It has come to our attention in recent months that a fair amount of interest has been shown in Microsoft Azure's Purview tool, so we thought we would take this opportunity to talk about it! The first, and most important question to tackle is... What is Purview?

Now, we could take the easy route and Google a description for you, or even use one of those new-fangled LLMs to write something that is factually correct, but perhaps lacking the insights actually working with this tool offers, but we have decided that an honest exploration of the tool and its uses will prove to be more beneficial.

It is difficult to discuss Purview without considering what it means to some of its userbase, for it is different things to different people. Purview, for those who might still be blissfully unaware, is Microsoft’s suite for data governance and compliance. It’s nestled in amongst 20+ admin centres, but here’s the difficulty: defining what Purview is depends entirely on who you ask. It’s the quintessential blind men and the elephant scenario. Let’s break it down by some of the roles that interact with this enigmatic beast.

Compliance Officers: The True Believers

Compliance officers are the ones who practically worship the Purview deity. To them, it’s the holy grail of data governance. They see it as a comprehensive solution that ensures their organisation adheres to all the regulations, from GDPR to CCPA. With Purview, they can map data flows, classify information, and manage risk. It’s the tool that helps them sleep at night, knowing they’ve done their due diligence.

Something to take into account here is that compliance officers love Purview because it’s designed to tick their boxes. Compliance reporting? Check. Risk management? Check. Policies and controls? Check. They don’t care about speed or user experience – they just want to avoid fines and regulatory nightmares.

Lawyers: The Delegators

Now, let’s talk about the lawyers. They’re not getting their hands dirty with Purview – that’s a job for the IT folks or the unlucky paralegal. What lawyers like about Purview is its defensibility. It’s standardised, it offers early metrics, and it presents a nice, tidy workflow that’s hard to mess up. No spoliation here, thank you very much.

Lawyers love the fact that Purview provides a defensible process. It’s not about features or performance; it’s about being able to say, “Look, we followed a standardised process.” It is all about having an answer or documentation to throw at the other side, while someone else does the heavy lifting.

HR and DSAR Responses: The Firefighters

HR departments responding to Data Subject Access Requests (DSARs) are like firefighters in the trenches. They need to locate personal data quickly and efficiently to comply with requests. For them, Purview is both a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, it’s a powerful tool that can sift through vast amounts of data to find what they need. On the other hand, it can be slow and cumbersome. The lack of certain features makes their job harder than it should be. Yet, it’s better than having no tool at all, so they grudgingly put up with its quirks and limitations.

eDisclosure Specialists: The Jaded Veterans

Ah, the eDisclosure specialists. These folks are the grizzled veterans of the compliance world, and they have opinions. They’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of eDiscovery tools, and Purview often falls into the “meh” category for them.

Compared to industry giants like RelativityOne, Purview can feel like a joke. It’s slow, lacks advanced features, and can be frustrating to use. Yet this would be missing how Purview should serve the Discovery fraternity, a lot of us are using it to ringfence (legal hold), set parameters for a collection, run basic keywords, qualify this data and then get it reported and exported. Unfortunately, this very simple workflow can take days, sometimes weeks.

IT Departments: The Reluctant Middlemen

Finally, we have the IT departments. These poor souls are often caught in the crossfire, tasked with implementing and maintaining Purview to satisfy the whims of legal and compliance teams. They don’t have the luxury of loving or hating the tool; they just must make it work.

To them, Purview is just another software package to support. They grumble about the extra workload, the integration challenges, and the inevitable user complaints. But at the end of the day, they’re professionals. They’ll set it up, keep it running, and do their best to make everyone happy – even if it means working late nights and weekends.

So, what is Microsoft Azure Purview? Well, it’s a multi-faceted tool that means different things to different people. For compliance officers, it’s a dream come true. For lawyers, it’s belts and braces. For HR departments, it’s a necessary evil. For eDisclosure specialists, it’s a compromise. And for IT departments, it’s just another job to do.

Purview is far from perfect, and depending on your role, it might be a godsend or a headache. But in a world where data governance and compliance are non-negotiable, it’s a tool that many organisations must learn to live with – it’s not the tool we want, it’s the tool we need.