As data proliferates across all spheres of life, new methods are needed to identify, track, and manage information. Microsoft Purview is a unified suite of compliance and governance tools designed to give businesses and users a better understanding of their entire data estate. Previously known as Azure Purview, the latest rendition of this powerful tool sets out to manage the future of compliance and data governance in a hyper-connected world.

Let’s take a detailed look into Microsoft Purview, including its key functionality, essential components, and practical benefits.

What is Microsoft Purview?

Microsoft is marketing Purview as a unified data governance solution for on-premises, multi-cloud, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) data. By providing businesses with a holistic real-time map of their entire data landscape, it attempts to solve problems associated with existing data management services. Users will be able to avoid redundant dashboards and data pipelines, which will help them to operate more efficiently and deliver greater value where it counts.

Just like its previous incarnation — Azure Purview — Microsoft Purview serves three primary purposes: data mapping, data cataloguing, and data insights. It maps data from diverse sources, labels data using established rules, and creates actionable insights across the data environment. However, it adds key functionality around data security and compliance, with these issues more important than ever in today’s connected and data-driven economies.

According to Microsoft, this new product offers the following benefits:

  • Better visibility across your entire data estate
  • Easier access to data, security, and risk solutions
  • Safeguards sensitive data on multiple fronts
  • Manages end-to-end data risks and compliance
  • Governs, protects and manages data in a new unified way

From a practical perspective, users need to be aware of multiple name changes. For example, Office 365 Customer Lockbox is now Microsoft Purview Customer Lockbox, Microsoft 365 Advanced Audit is Microsoft Purview Audit, and Azure Purview Data Catalog is Microsoft Purview Data Catalog.

The components of Purview

Microsoft Purview is designed as a comprehensive solution for diverse datasets and use cases. While organizations will always have scattered data sources, this suite allows them to benefit from centralized data management. Purview offers a unified map with discoverable data for a bird’s-eye view of all data facilities in real-time. It also helps with data distribution, movement, and location across domains and timelines.

As the latest rendition of an existing tool, Microsoft Purview combines the capabilities of Azure Purview with various tools from Microsoft 365. With an eye toward unified data and risk management, it combines established cataloguing and classification functionality with new data loss prevention and compliance tools. Microsoft Purview is an attempt to create a unified and consistent data management solution.

Microsoft Purview is built over Apache Atlas, which is an open-source project for metadata management and governance. The latest edition of the Purview Data Catalog is based on Apache Atlas, and it extends full support for Apache Atlas APIs. Purview consists of three components: data map, data catalogue, and data insights.

Data map

A unified data map is the foundation of effective data governance. The Purview data map allows users to:

  • Manage and automate metadata from multiple hybrid sources
  • Classify data using integrated and customized tools
  • Label sensitive data consistently across services
  • Integrate data systems using Apache Atlas APIs

Data catalog

Data is completely useless if it can’t be discovered. The Purview data catalog allows users to:

  • Discover data through familiar search terms
  • Eliminate Excel data dictionaries with a glossary
  • Understand data origins with lineage visualization
  • Provide data scientists, engineers, and analysts with data

Data insights

A bird’s-eye data view provides clarity for better decision-making. Purview data insights allow users to:

  • View and manage data metrics across an entire estate
  • View a data estate and its distributions by asset dimensions
  • Get status updates on scan attributes
  • Gain insights to add or redistribute glossary terms

What does Microsoft Purview do?

Microsoft Purview works through metadata — self-referential data markers based on type, date, and other key identifying attributes. From who created the data to what it signifies and when it was made, these markers can be used to segment and manage a huge array of disparate data entities. From data tagging to lineage traceability and cataloging, meta tags are both an efficient marking tool and a powerful lever that can be used to restrict access.

For example, digital images include metadata in their “properties,” with all data types offering this kind of functionality. Microsoft Purview simply extracts and refactors metadata to make it easier to control. While there is nothing revolutionary in this, it has the potential to be incredibly powerful when it’s integrated with business systems and made available across an entire organization.

Why you should care

With the automated discovery, sensitive classification, and end-to-end lineage tools available under a single system a business has a trustworthy way to manage data on several fronts. Instead of stitching data, security, compliance, and legal solutions together, Purview makes it easier to deal with data on its own terms. Users are empowered to expose infrastructure gaps, avoid inconsistencies, reduce time delays, and manage project costs. Overall, Purview allows teams to operate more efficiently by focusing on projects that add value.

Despite all of these tremendous benefits, the following complexities need to be addressed:


While undeniably useful, not all data needs to be searchable and discoverable. If you deal with customer records, financial information, or intellectual property, you need a way to manage sensitive data properly. Purview addresses this issue by allowing users to mark, map, and control sensitive data directly through its metadata. Organizations can adopt security policies and restrict access while maintaining regulatory compliance.


Microsoft Purview is a fantastic resource with a comprehensive scope and rich feature set. However, like all software tools, there are some limitations. Despite its badge change, Purview still shares close links with Azure, and most data traceability features require the use of Azure data orchestration and pipeline tools. While organizations can use Purview features without adopting Purview Azure tools, it may affect information on data lineage in some cases.

Implement Microsoft Purview for your organization

While data has undeniable importance in the modern world, discovery and management tools are needed to get insights and create value. The more data you create or use, the better tools you need.

At Softlanding, we can help you grow through data by adopting Microsoft Purview across your organization. Please reach out to our team of IT consultants to learn more.

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Softlanding is a long-established IT services provider of transformation, professional services and managed IT services that helps organizations boost innovation and drive business value. We are a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with 13 Gold Competencies and we use our experience and expertise to be a trusted advisor to our clients. Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, we have staff and offices in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary to serve clients across Canada.

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