Glossary terms in Microsoft Purview (Preview)

Glossary terms are active values that provide context, but also apply policies that determine how your data should be managed, governed, and made discoverable for use.

If you've already been using Microsoft Purview, you're familiar with the business glossary in general. It provides a vocabulary for business users. It consists of business terms that can be related to each other and allows them to be categorized so that they can be understood in different contexts. This helps in abstracting the technical jargon associated with the data repositories and allows the business user to discover and work with data in the vocabulary that is more familiar to them.

Microsoft Purview wants to take these terms a step farther by allowing them to play an active role in data governance. Now data stewards can use terms to apply policies and scale data governance as their data estate grows.

What is a glossary term?

Terms are individual concepts that define the business, processes, and systems used in an organization. They can be applied across a data estate, relating to data assets and data products to provide business context to your users. A technically named SQL table becomes less mysterious once it's linked to your "Account" business term, since users can immediately see what aspect of the business it's related to.

Terms are created under business domains to create context specific to each part of your organization. Both sales and marketing might use the same term to mean different things, and your business domains help your team to differentiate between those meanings.

Once created, terms map to data products, to provide context for those data products, and to provide specific data governance based on business context. It's easy to understand how a term and it's definition provide business context to a data product, but how do they provide data governance? Terms are an active part of Microsoft Purview that provide data governance by now containing policies.

Policies in a business term apply specific business health goals, data governance requirements, and terms of use to any data product that a term is applied to. We're excited to introduce the different kinds of policies that will be available within a term, so be on the lookout for our updates.

How does this scale data governance?

Glossary terms have previously been static terms that can be applied to define a concept. But now they can be activated in that they're objects that are attached to policies that determine how your data should be managed, governed, and made discoverable for use. Terms for data access and data health controls can trickle down to data products. Today these tasks are on data stewards to apply policies on single data objects--that's not scalable. Now a data steward can create a single term and create its policies. They might not know where that term will be applied, but any time the term is applied to a data product, all the associated policies will be automatically applied. Active terms allow your data estate to naturally scale, and maintain security and discoverability without burying your data stewards in a mire.

Next steps