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Lifeguard On Duty: Startup Okera Offers Tools For Governing Access To Data Lakes

Company debuts new Policy Builder addition to its platform for managing security and governance for petabyte-class data lake systems.

Big data management software developer Okera is expanding the capabilities of its data lake security and governance platform with new tools for creating and managing policies that dictate who can access stored data.

As businesses and organizations load up their data lakes with increasingly huge volumes of generally unorganized data, securing that data and setting rules on who has permission to access it has become a major challenge.

The goal is to reduce the risk of compliance violations and data security breaches while still maximizing the business value of data, according to Paige Bartley, senior analyst for data, AI and analytics at 451 Research, in a statement accompanying the Okera announcement.

[Related: The Big Data 100 2019]

Wednesday Okera unveiled Okera Policy Builder, an addition to the Okera Active Data Access Platform that data stewards and data governance teams use to create and manage detailed data access control policies.

The tool helps businesses and organizations protect petabyte-scale data stores and ensure regulatory compliance by enabling those who most understand data access requirements to easily implement and manage policies consistently across an organization.

Okera launched in 2016 and the Okera Active Data Access Platform became available in 2018.

“We set out to make data management easy and frictionless with agile security and governance, helping organizations stay compliant with their large-scale business analytics environments,” said Amandeep Khurana, chief technology officer and a co-founder of San Francisco-based Okera, in an interview with CRN.

With the core platform in place, Okera is now focused on developing add-on tools – such as the Policy Builder – to extend its capabilities, Khurana said.

Data stewards and data governance teams, who may be better versed in data privacy law than in data management technology, are generally responsible for determining who within an organization can access data stored in a data lake. But they often have to work with system administrators and IT management when developing and running the policies that govern that access. That can lead to bottlenecks in developing data governance policies and greater potential for errors and inconsistencies, according to Okera.

The Okera Policy Builder tool provides data stewards and governance teams with the means to easily create and manage data access policies at the individual data set level, based on data attributes, using natural language prompts, visual workflows and drop-down selections. It also includes easy verification of policy creation and comprehensive auditing of policies once they are in place.

While the Okera platform can work with on-premises data lakes, Khurana said the company’s software is most frequently used to help manage cloud-based data lakes running on Amazon Web Services, Snowflake Computing or Microsoft Azure platforms and working in conjunction with big data software from such vendors as Alation, Databricks, Collibra and StreamSets.

Okera has largely sold its software direct to customers, but it has worked with some systems integrators with big data practices who find themselves facing data governance challenges, especially in vertical industries like healthcare and financial services with stringent data privacy and data protection regulations.

Okera is in the early stages of “exploring” partnerships with these systems integrators and developing go-to-market strategies with them, Khurana said.

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