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What is Tableau Server?

What is Tableau Server?

The overwhelming growth of data volumes across various industries has created a need for decision makers and data visualization tools with greater accuracy, to understand the data with graphics.

Tableau is one of the best business intelligence (BI) toolkits available, which fulfill all business requirements through intelligent tools and techniques. It allows a business to convert raw datasets into actionable insights.

Organizations use Tableau for data transformation, creating visualizations, and sharing them as dashboards and reports for real-time analysis. In Tableau, different tools are used to perform specific tasks. One such tool that will be discussed in this blog is Tableau Server.

Watch this video for more information on Tableau Server:

Introduction to Tableau Server

Tableau Server is an online platform that allows you to host and manage Tableau data sources, workbooks, reports, and dashboards created on Tableau Desktop. You can access Tableau Server from a web browser to create new workspaces, publish reports and dashboards, and share them with other users.

While sharing the content, permissions can be given to each user that restricts them from editing, applying different types of filters, and sharing it further. Users can create apps and add specific visuals to create live dashboards that can be accessed through smartphones and tablets. Moreover, you can collaborate with other designers and administrators to work together and create highly customized reports for a particular field.

Benefits of Using Tableau Server in IT Projects

Tableau Server provides the following benefits to organizations in their IT projects:


Almost every business uses some sort of key performance indicator (KPIs) to monitor the performance of a project team, management, and employees. Tableau Server provides snapshots of live dashboards so that they can be used to check the progress in the form of a graph.


Dashboards in Tableau Server are used to monitor the critical aspects of a dataset in order to improve the performance and sales of certain products. Tableau Server allows you to set the notifications for certain visualizations, which notify you once the metrics have reached a certain level.


Tableau Server allows you to add application programming interfaces (APIs) and tweak and play around with the dashboards by programming the visualizations and creating statistical models. You can customize the Tableau Server interface and make it more fluid based on the requirements.


The Tableau Server interface provides you with the ability to create custom views and see how a product or service has performed over a period of time. Tableau Server also allows other users or leaders to extract the information related to their departments out of a workbook.


As compared to other BI tools, Tableau Server requires less computing power to execute complex queries and data models. Functions such as Ask Data allow you to explore data using Natural Language Processing (NLP). Tableau Server’s performance optimization system reduces the stress on graphics processing units white creating visualizations.

With such benefits, Tableau Server runs ahead of other BI tools and has made itself one of the best choices in modern industries.

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Tableau Server Architecture

The following are the five layers that makeup Tableau Server’s architecture:

Tableau Data Server

Data Server is a primary component of Tableau Server that allows users to connect with multiple data sources such as web applications, Excel files, text files, SQL servers, and more. Data Servers can blend the data from both on-premise and on-cloud servers so that users can create relationships between different data variables.

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Tableau Data Connectors

Data Connectors act as an interface used to move data between two databases. Data Connectors help users transform the data into a proper format or to perform analysis. Tableau Server has in-built Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) and SQL connectors that allow users to connect with any database, whether it is live or in-memory data.

Real-time data connection

The tableau Server can establish a real-time connection with external data sources and run queries with the help of SQL statements and Multidimensional Expressions (MDX).
Enterprises, with databases updating periodically, cannot load the complete dataset each time while creating visualizations. So, Tableau Server allows visualizations to connect with live data and create front-end visualizations.

In-memory or extracted data

In-memory data refers to the local copy of an external database stored in the form of a Tableau extract file; the Tableau data engine can extract millions of rows every second. Data Connectors allow users to visualize data without any connection to online data sources. However, this process results in increased consumption of resources, such as RAM, ROM, and cache memory, by Tableau’s data engine.


Gateway transfers the requests from the users to different components of the Tableau Server. After the request is made by a user, it goes to the load balancer, which works as a distributor for various components of the Tableau Server. The gateway can also work as a load balancer if the same is not available.

The gateway or primary server can manage all requests for a single-server configuration. However, a physical system is used as the primary server or gateway in case of multiple server configurations.


Clients are the software, applications, and web browsers, where users can put requests, interact with the server, and create visualizations. Tableau clients are available in the form of Tableau Desktop, Tableau mobile applications, and web browsers.

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Components of Tableau Server

There are three different components of Tableau Server:

Application Server:

The application server is used by administrators to handle permissions and authorizations for mobile and web applications. Administrators can set the default timeout for each session on the server and record the timings of each session along with the user id.

VizQL Server

Visual Query Language (VizQL) Server allows users to convert data queries into visualizations. It retrieves information from data sources and directly converts the same into an image. VizQL Server creates a cache of the created visualization to reduce the load time.

Data Server

Do not get this Data Server confused with the data server discussed earlier. This Data Server is a component of the server-side and is used for data security, metadata management, driver requirements, data storage, and data connections. Data Server stores the relevant details about datasets, which can be used to make lice connections.

Tableau Server Supports

  1. Android browsers
  2. Android apps
  3. iOS apps
  4. Web browsers such as Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer
  5. Mobile Safari

Advantages of Tableau Server


The tableau Server helps you schedule tasks at intervals that you have decided. For example, if you are looking to send emails, containing snapshots of your dashboard outlining the KPIs, to your stakeholders, Tableau Server’s scheduling will help you get the job done.

Notification systems

The tableau Server offers notification systems that will send key notifications once a chosen metric has reached its target. You can set the systems to send notifications straight to the concerned team or personnel.


This is probably the most desired feature of all. Within Tableau Server, you can organize your dashboard aesthetically into separate projects while still retaining control over who can view, access, or interact with it.


Tableau offers a clear license fee structure. You can use Tableau Creator for US$70 per month per user, Tableau Explorer for US$35 per month per user, and Tableau Viewer for US$12 per month per user. Even though it may seem complex, it is very straightforward.


Tableau Server offers fantastic customization perks. You can tweak and play around with the customizations for as long as you want.


With this feature, you can set up your dashboard the way you want it displayed. It can be displayed differently in different departments.


Your data in Tableau Server is safe. You can tweak it to match your requirements. If you care about data, then Tableau Server has got you covered.

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Disadvantages of Tableau Server

  • Users of Tableau Server can only access it through web browsers.
  • With Tableau Server, users can only publish data sources and metadata.
  • The editing options in Tableau Server are limited when compared to Tableau Desktop.

Tableau Desktop Vs. Tableau Server

Top Differences Between Tableau Server and Desktop

Before venturing deep into the analysis of these two terms, let’s first understand the terms Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server.

What is the Tableau Desktop?

Data generation has become increasingly common in businesses today. The further increase in the rate of digital transactions has also paved the way for this drastic change. Hence, in order to gain insights from large amounts of data, traditional approaches do not tend to work for the companies. In this scenario, Tableau Desktop comes to the rescue. It is a data visualization software used for business intelligence in converting large number of datasets into graphs, charts, and other visual representations. In the best free tableau training for students courses, you can see a significant portion of lectures is given on Tableau Desktop.

It helps the decision-making people with the live visual representation from the unlimited data by exploring to make informed decisions by showcasing the hidden business insights.

What is the Tableau Server?

The Tableau Desktop allows experts to create numerous interactive dashboards and workbooks. The Tableau Server enables the users to share, publish, maintain, and administrate the contents of Tableau Desktop.

To protect the business’s sensitive data, an administrator controls and regulates the Tableau server’s access. The administrator of the Tableau Server can allow and lock the permission to projects, views, workbooks, and all other data sources.

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The Key Differences

Basic Function

Tableau Desktop is used to generate dashboards, worksheets, stories connecting to sources of data. The source can be file folders or a server. On the other hand, Tableau Server used to publish the dashboard, worksheets, and stories available in the Tableau Desktop.

Accessing the works

In Tableau Desktop, anyone can publish and share the files locally by sending their workbook. But to access the file, the recipient must have Tableau Reader or Tableau Desktop in their system. In Tableau Server, once anyone shares the file by uploading it into the server, the recipient can access the file if they have login credentials. That means Tableau Server installation on their PC is not mandatory.


If you share your work locally on Tableau Desktop, you would be unable to restrict and set the rules to the end-users for making changes to the workbooks. This is one of the major problems in Tableau Desktop since it will make way for the creation of multiple versions of the same reports available at different locations. But Tableau Server doesn’t suffer from this kind of issue. The Tableau admin has complete control over this product. Hence, they can permit every user. It allows the admin to provide full or restricted access. Admin can give access for view, edit, make changes, etc. If you have permission to edit, then you can alter the existing reports using the online tableau Desktop tools if you log on to the server.

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Tableau Server Installation

Setting up Tableau Server is a fairly easy process. There are multiple ways to install it on your systems such as automated installation, jump-start installation, installing tableau in an air-gapped environment, cloud installation, and Tableau Online. However, in this tutorial, we’ll show you how to install Tableau Server on Windows:

  • Open the Tableau website on your browser and click on Tableau Server from the Products drop-down menu.

 Tableau Website

  • Select Try It For Free and download the setup as per your requirements. Here, we will be choosing the On-premises version.

Select options as per requirement

  • Enter your business email address and download the setup file.

Download Setup File

  • Open the setup file, select the location for the installed software files or leave the default, and click on the Next button.
Installation Wizard
  • Select Create New Tableau Server Installation and click on the checkbox for the authorization-to-run (ATR) to activate the server.

Create new Tableau Server installation

  • Click on the Install button and wait for the installation to be finished.

Product Activation

  • Now, enter the product key you received in the email, follow the registration process, and complete the setup.
Entering Product Key

How to Share a Dashboard on Tableau Online and Tableau Server

The following are the steps to publish a dashboard on Tableau Online and how to restart Tableau Server:

  • Launch the Tableau desktop application and open the dashboard that you want to publish on the server.
Dashboard in Tableau Desktop Application
  • If you have just started with Tableau, then you can download a pre-existing report from the Tableau website.
Download pre-existing report
  • Now, click on the Share button from the toolbar; a dialog box for publishing the workbook will appear.
Publishing Workbook
  • Enter the server link or select the option of Tableau Online and click on the Connect button. If you do not have a server link, then you can create one from the Create Site option.
  • Enter the name for a new workbook or publish over an existing one. Edit the authentication details such as refresh access, password, and other details.
Workbook Details
  • At last, enter the user details with whom you want to share the workbooks and click on the Publish button.


Tableau is one of the most popular BI and data visualization toolkits used by various enterprises around the world. The server component of Tableau helps users publish and share workbooks with other users and create a centralized management interface. If your system does not meet all the requirements, you can use Tableau Online and share the workbooks with other users.

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About the Author

Data Analyst & Machine Learning Associate

As a Data Analyst & Machine Learning Associate, Nishtha uses a combination of her analytical skills and machine learning knowledge to interpret complicated datasets. She is a passionate storyteller who transforms crucial findings into gripping tales that further influence data-driven decision-making in the business frontier.