What is Tableau Server?
Updated on 30th Aug, 21 107 Views

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 BI tool kits available which fulfill all the business requirements through Intelligent tools and techniques. It allows a business to convert raw datasets into actionable insights.

Check out this blog on Tableau to learn more about the topic. 

Organizations use Tableau for data transformation, create visualizations, and share them as dashboards and reports for real-time analysis. In tableau , different tools are used to perform specific tasks. One such tool that’ll be discussed in this blog is the Tableau Server. So, below are the topics we’ll be covering in this blog:

What is Tableau Server?

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

While sharing the content, permissions can be given to each user that restricts them from editing, applying filters, and sharing it further. The user 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. 

Watch this video for more information on Tableau Server:

Benefits in IT Projects

Tableau provides several benefits to the organizations in their IT projects that include:

  • Scheduling
    Almost every business uses some sort of Key Performing Indicators(KPIs) to monitor the performance of a project team, management, and employees. Here, Tableau provides the snapshots of live dashboards, so that they can be used to check the progress in the form of a graph.
  • Notifying
    Dashboards in Tableau are used to monitor the critical aspects of the dataset in order to improve the performance and sales of certain products. Tableau allows you to set the notifications for certain visualizations, which notifies you once the metrics have reached a certain level.
  • Customization
    The 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 Tableau Server interface and make it more fluid based on the requirements.
  • Viewing
    The interface provides you the ability to create custom views and see how a product or service performed over a period of time. Also, it allows other users or leaders to extract the information related to their department out of a workbook.
  • Processing
    As compared to other BI tools, Tableau requires less computing power to execute complex queries and data models. Functions like Ask Data allow you to explore the data using Natural Language Processing(NLP). Also, the Tableau Server performance optimization system reduces the stress on graphics processing units white creating the visualizations.

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

Check out the Tableau Interview questions if you’re preparing for a job interview.

Tableau Server Architecture

Following are the five layers that make up Tableau’s Server Architecture:

Data Server

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

Data Connectors

Data connectors act as an interface used to move the data between two databases. It helps the user to transform the data in a proper format or to perform the analysis. Tableau has the in-built Open Database Connectivity(ODBC) and SQL connectors that allow the user to connect with any database whether it’s live or In-memory data.

  • Real-time data connection: Tableau 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 whole dataset each time while creating the visualizations. So, Tableau allows them 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.

    It allows the user to visualize the data without any connection to the online data sources. However, this process results in more consumption of the resources such as RAM, ROM, and cache memory by Tableau’s data engine.

Components of the Server

It has three different components:

  • Application Server: The application is used by the administrators to handle the permissions and authorizations for the mobile and web applications. The administrator 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: VizQL or Visual Query language allows the user to convert the data queries into visualizations. It retrieves the information from the data sources and directly converts it into an image. To reduce the load time, the server creates a cache of the visualization created.
  • Data Server: Don’t get confused with this data server compared to the one we 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. The data server stores the relevant details about the datasets, which can be used to make lice connections.

Gateway

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

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

Clients

Clients are the software, applications, and web browsers, where the user 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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Tableau Desktop vs Tableau Server

Following are the key differences between the Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server:

Tableau DesktopTableau Server
Used to create reports and dashboards by connecting both On-premises and On-cloud data sourcesUsed to publish the reports and dashboards created using Tableau Desktop
The Desktop is installed on a workstation or laptop/PCUsers can only access the server through a web browser
Allows the user to create Data Sources and MetadataUsers can only publish the data sources and metadata
Reports can only be shared locallyReports can be shared with anyone and permission to view, edit, apply filters, etc can be added 
A desktop is On-premises softwareIt’s a standalone cloud SaaS service 
Provides numerous editing options for your visualizationsEditing options are less compared to the Desktop
Mainly used by small and medium businessesUsed by medium and large businesses and enterprises

Take the Tableau Server Training to master your skills in Tableau administration.

Now, let’s discuss the Tableau Features and its installation process.

Tableau Features

With advanced features and AI-driven processes, Tableau helped various organizations to be more data-driven and improve their market value. Tableau users include some of the famous enterprises such as Red Hat, Nissan, Henkel, Verizon, Chipotle, Honeywell, Lenovo, Lufthansa, and NYC Hospitals

Tableau Features

Below are the Tableau features that makes it one of the most popular Business Intelligence tool among enterprises around the world:

  • Einstein Discovery
    Einstein Discovery in Tableau enables the users to make predictions about different scenarios and the performance of the project team inside the organization. It guides the user to make smarter decisions and with the help of augmented analytics without writing any codes.
  • Ask Questions with Natural Language
    With Ask Data, Tableau enables the user to ask questions and execute their queries in natural language. You just have to write the variable/column names followed by the chart or visual name, and the power algorithms of Ask Data will create the visualization for you.

    This feature enables a non-technical user to create simple visualizations and seeks modern technology to make data-driven decisions.
  • AI-driven Explanations
    Discover hidden patterns, insights, and create new relationships with different data variables with the help of advanced statistical models. These AI-driven models let you leverage the power of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to explain data points in a single click.
  • Empowers Businesses
    With Data servers and gateways, the user can manage all the databases, servers, metadata, and security rules from a single place. With shared and organized data sources, the user gains visibility on the server and can further optimize its environment. Tableau provides youth right combination of flexibility and control.
  • Flexible Development
    With Tableau, users have the flexibility to keep their data either or On-premise and cloud storage. For ultimate control, Tableau can integrate with already existing infrastructures or deploy on public cloud services like Microsoft Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud Platform.
  • Powerful Monitoring
    Tableau platform makes it easier to manage and keep an eye on various parameters such as performance, content, projects, sales, licenses, user interaction, profit, marketer value, and more. You can also set notifications on the visuals and tableau will notify you whenever the data will cross a certain threshold.
  • Better Management
    You can use various tools to better manage the data sources, analytics environment, your reports, and keep them up-to-date which can be useful while making important decisions. Tableau interface has categorized all the datasets based on their sources, further simplifying the entire process from data preparation to data visualization.

Now, let’s discuss tableau server specifications and how to create data source in Tableau server.

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Prerequisites

Following are the Tableau Server requirements you need to fulfill before proceeding with the installation part:

  • Minimum 16GB of RAM
  • 1GB of free disk space
  • 64-bit Windows Server Operating System of version 2012 or above. 
  • Disable Antivirus Software as it may interfere with the installation process.
  • Administrator access in order to use CLI tools. 

Server Installation

Setting up Tableau Server is a fairly easy process. There are multiple ways to install the server on your system 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 the Tableau Server from the products section. 
 Tableau Website
  • Select try tableau for free and download the setup as per your requirements. Here, we’ll be choosing the On-premise 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

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How to share a Dashboard on Tableau Online and Server

Following are the steps to publish a dashboard on the server online and how to restart the Tableau server:

  • Launch the Tableau desktop application and open the dashboard you want to publish on the server. 
Dashboard in Tableau Desktop Application
  • If you’ve just started with the Tableau software, 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 don’t have a server link, you can create one from the create site option.
Sharing
  • 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. 

Conclusion

Tableau is one of the most popular Business Intelligence and data visualization toolkits used by various enterprises around the world. The server component of Tableau helps the user publish and share workbooks with other users and create a centralized management interface. If your system doesn’t meet all the requirements, you can use Tableau online and share them with other users. 

Check out our Business Intelligence Community for more information about Tableau.

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