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In the face of relentless corporate data breaches, many enterprise, vendor and technology players today are talking about a data-forward approach to their IT estate or IT environment.

At the annual MIT Sloan CIO Symposium last month, George Westerman, research scientist with the MIT Initiative of the Digital Economy said: “There has never been a better time to be a great IT leader, and there has never been a worse time to be an average IT leader.”


At Blazent, we bring a rich heritage of master data management over our 13-year history. As an early Blazent employee, Mike Marson helped establish that data-first focus. Now, as VP of Engineering and one of four members of the Office of the CTO, . Mike answered questions about the data-first heritage of Blazent that empowers great IT leaders today:


After more than 10 years at Blazent, what stands out for you and your team about the increased focus on data quality?


Ten years ago, I joined Blazent as a member of the professional services team. When I started, we were approaching data processing in a very different way because it was before the tsunami of big data and the avalanche of complexity that has overtaken the majority of enterprise IT. Today, Blazent brings a distillation of all of the knowledge that we have gained or sourced from processing data. Precedence orders, rules, validations – these are principles we have built upon and that bring historical continuity to our work today in the era of big data.


At Blazent today, we can track disparate sources of information and interrogate the data so that when we capture a particular data entity, we can actually enrich the data to create data intelligence. It’s only when you combine disparate views of the data that you can see the whole. By that I mean we have brought our experience with entity management and entity identification into our data model.


In addition, we know that the fastest way to process data at a massive scale is to know exactly what you don’t need to process. Some data sources give us more information than we need to see. Therefore, if you can focus on only what’s most important, new or different, you can speed up the processing and, ultimately, the resulting data accuracy and quality.


What about the concept of a data neighborhood?


At Blazent we’re source-agnostic. We understand that an individual entity record may have some possible relationship or overlap with another set of records, but it doesn’t mean they are, in fact, the same entity. For example, a data record could be referring to a server; another could be referring to the rack the server is installed in; and a third could be referring to the software on that server. Blazent can process these three sources as a “data neighborhood.” Blazent can process all of this data at the same time by knowing all of the things they are related to in order to establish complete and accurate data quality. The concept of a data neighborhood actually emerged 5 or 6 years ago. And the idea of data purification, for example, has been around at Blazent for 7 or 8 years. Today, we’re extending and expanding these concepts into our next-generation platform.


Operational risk is a concern in any IT environment. How do you think about operational risk and the Blazent approach?


Operational Risk is a very broad category and topic. But it all starts with this question: how do you know what you don’t know? The answer always starts with the completeness and correctness of your IT estate through the multi-source data processing that Blazent does at scale.


The ultimate question is: how do you really know exactly where your enterprise is vulnerable, where you have gaps in visibility? For example, do I have up-to-date anti-virus software deployed on every host computer in my environment? How do I know for sure? If that simple question is one that your IT organization can’t answer, you’re vulnerable. Furthermore, how can you prove that every computer is up-to-date on its anti-virus protection? That’s where Blazent comes in and because we understand your complete environment, we can give you a list of hosts with high confidence that aren’t in your anti-virus source. These are some of the foundational steps we can deliver to ensure operational accuracy in any enterprise.