Tableau Server - Enterprise Data Visualization Software
Updated March 01, 2016

Tableau Server - Enterprise Data Visualization Software

Andrew Porter | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version


Overall Satisfaction with Tableau Server

Tableau Server is used in conjunction with Tableau Desktop to provide visualization for a clients' CRM system. It sits on top of a data warehouse consisting of SQL Server, Splunk, and Hadoop data stores. The client uses Tableau to provide reports on KPIs such as churn rates, acquisition / bounty, and marketing effectiveness. While Tableau Server is used directly by performance assurance and marketing departments, its data and reports are disseminated throughout the company as the de-facto source of CRM reporting. The biggest challenge that Tableau Server addresses is the need for a robust hub for data visualization and ad hoc analysis.
  • Tableau Server can be up and running within 30-60 minutes on a clean install since their installation wizard is extremely easy to use.
  • Tableau Server is easily administered by a small technical team of 1-3 people. The majority of administrative needs can be addressed through the web application directly. Others can be configured easily in configuration files or utilities.
  • High level business users LOVE the rich, interactive visualizations that are possible using Tableau. No experience is needed to interact with and draw meaningful conclusions from your data using the web application.
  • Analyst-level users can quickly learn to use Tableau Desktop in harmony with Tableau Server. With Tableau Desktop, users can create/modify reports and draw even deeper analysis.
  • The Tableau Community and Forums are extremely active. However, Tableau Support is also proactive in terms of troubleshooting issues. They are responsive, follow up, and work on a first name basis.
  • In Tableau Desktop / Tableau Server you can add micro-ETL processing, mapping, and other business rules directly in Tableau reports. This quickly becomes a danger to undermine existing back-end systems and their business logic. To avoid this, enforce concrete rules and structure for where business rules live.
  • The Tableau ecosystem is fantastic and flexible, but there is a learning curve. Creating meaningful reports is difficult and it takes time to learn.
  • Tableau Server introduced such a fast moving paradigm to reporting and visualization that it flipped our business users and technical team upside down. Suddenly we saw the millions of ways we could be slicing and dicing our data. Tableau Server opens up enormous windows for creativity and out of the box thinking. It's important to slow down and define a vision and long term goals for the reporting suite.
  • Tableau does not offer any solution for version control on its workbooks / dashboards / reports.
  • There is no clear way on how to QA/test Tableau reports given that it is primarily GUI-driven.
Tableau Server has many competitors, two primary ones would be SAP Business Objects and Microsoft PowerView through Tabular Analysis Services. I have worked with all three products. First and foremost, in terms of data visualization Tableau is the best by far. However there are a few questions to ask:

Are your end users die-hard Excel junkies? In that case I'd go with Microsoft PowerView / Tabular Analysis Services
Is your data housed in an enterprise-grade SAP-BW? Then I would stick with Business Objects.

Tableau is its own standalone ecosystem that comes with a learning curve. Once someone in your company learns how to develop Tableau reports, they will become indispensable. With the right minds tasked with owning Tableau Server, you can quickly churn out visually stunning and insightful reports primarily due to features such as calculated fields and mappings. However, with this velocity Tableau Server is also wickedly powerful. It threatens to flatten and dismantle your data warehouse world by unleashing business logic into your reporting suite; this of course a facet of your ETL layer previously locked deep within the bowels your data warehouse.

Tableau Server is an integral part of the reporting suite for a client. It meets their reporting needs and has proven to be one of the most reliable painless pieces of software used to date. I believe that they are extremely happy with the product and will continue using it into the future.
Whether or not to recommend Tableau Server entirely depends on the needs in hand.

Tableau Server is a commitment. It is well suited for a diverse, large audience of consumers that are supported by a full-blown technical team of administrators and developers. The primary benefit of Tableau Server over Tableau Desktop is that your data published from Tableau Desktop is available dynamically through a web application to all users. If a small to mid-size company is interested, I would suggest simply getting a Tableau Desktop license as a low-risk entry point. Tableau Desktop is a single application that one technical person with direct access to the data warehouse can utilize to build reports on their own computer. These local dynamic reports can be emailed or turned into .pdfs.

In short, a key question to ask is: how large is the user base that will consume reports and how actively will they interact with the data? Tableau Server offers high levels interaction and may be overkill for a smaller company with more basic reporting needs. Tableau Desktop is a low-cost alternative for a single user to own and distribute visually rich yet non-interactive reports manually via email.

Tableau Server Feature Ratings

Pixel Perfect reports
Customizable dashboards
Report Formatting Templates
Drill-down analysis
Formatting capabilities
Integration with R or other statistical packages
Not Rated
Report sharing and collaboration
Publish to Web
Publish to PDF
Report Delivery Scheduling
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.)
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization
Predictive Analytics
Not Rated
Multi-User Support (named login)
Role-Based Security Model
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete)
Responsive Design for Web Access
Mobile Application
Dashboard / Report / Visualization Interactivity on Mobile