Microsoft’s new cloud-based tool aims to give businesses grip on data

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(Reuters) Microsoft Corp said a new cloud-based tool designed to help corporate customers understand where data is scattered throughout their operations and whether they are in compliance with data privacy regulations.

Once known for its Windows operating system and applications such as Office, Microsoft has built a large business in cloud computing, helping store and process huge amounts of data for corporate customers.

Last year, it introduced a tool called Azure Synapse that is being used by companies such as FedEx Corp to analyze the flow of its 16 million daily packages.

But for large companies, stores of data have become so large, and distributed across so many countries, that Microsoft is rolling out a tool called Azure Purview to help companies better understand precisely what information they have and where it resides.

In particular, the tool is designed to help data privacy and risk management officials ensure their companies are in compliance with rules such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, John “JG” Chirapurath, vice president of Azure data, artificial intelligence and edge, told Reuters in an interview.

The new tool uses artificial intelligence to detect sensitive or regulated data and can automatically mask it out, for example by redacting data on European customers from a sales report to U.S. employees who are not authorized to access it.

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