If we can all agree on a subject matter, it’s the fact that it would be complex, even self-destructive, to think of expanding a house without first knowing the solidity of the frame or basic building structure. Knock down a bearing wall by mistake and the building will fall down like a house of cards.

When you transpose the idea to the business world, how do you keep collecting more and more data if you don’t consider new storage solutions and database architecture modernization in the process ?

A blueprint will answer the need in the context of a building renovation, and data mapping will solve the problem in the same way for an enterprise.

An architectural plan (or floor plan) will project “as is” the walls, doors, windows, cables and pipes, generally showing a view from above in a layout that will help the architect in the renovation job, whether it’s adding or transforming rooms.

In the context of an information system modernization, this analogy presents data mapping as the blueprint of a house that’s already built : you have to make an inventory of all databases, programs, scripts and documentation of the legacy system in order to produce the complete knowledge base of the application and all the data that need to be transformed (see Legacy Modernization). It’s only once this long and demanding task is done that you will be able to deal with the risk-free moving or transforming of the containers (the databases) and their contents (the data).

Why is data mapping so essential ?

Here are the key benefits of a database migration, it allows you to :

  • Master your data
  • Increase data quality
  • Evaluate risks / costs

These elements are clearly essential and justify the necessity of the task, but there is one other reason – and a major one – that should not be neglected since every kind of organization is concerned, from the smallest SME to the multinational, including webstores and collectivities : namely the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The multiplication of data, and the growing difficulty to trace them, has given birth to new protection regulations : among them ePrivacy and GDPR (for personal data). One of the immediate effects is that any EU citizen can simply request which data any organizations possess on him or her, and a complete and compliant answer is always expected (under the right of access). But in order to comply, the organization must first know exactly where all these requested data are stored. How can you even begin to protect the personal data you own or justify the processing you make of them if you don’t have a first-hand understanding of what data you own, where there’re stored or who has access to them among your teams and subcontractors. You can see that data mapping definitely has a major role to play.

We previously addressed the requirements linked to the processing and the involved roles inside the organizations (see How one of our seminars can help you survive GDPR). It would indeed be difficult to imagine how you could respond properly to GDPR compliance (or any other data protection regulation) when you don’t first have a perfect knowledge of your information system’s contents (the famous « what », « how » and « where » precept).

In conclusion

Data mapping consequently provides a safe and qualitative solution by producing an automated and comprehensive technical documentation, which perfectly meets the needs of any enterprises in terms of data modernization and governance.

If the architecture of the information system is solidified in this way, it will then be easier to enlarge its initial structure without risking that everything collapses (or becomes a deadend for data, therefore making them useless).