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Tableau releases the Data Management Add-on for Tableau Server

In February 2019 Tableau released Tableau Server version 2019.1. This version now gives the option for Prep users to be able to schedule flows using the hotly anticipated ‘Tableau Conductor’. In this post we examine what capabilities this brings, and what you need for your organisation to enable it in your Tableau environment.

Data Management Add-on

Managing a flow using Tableau Prep Conductor

The first thing to note is that Tableau Conductor, which gives scheduling capabilities for ‘Flows’ created using the Tableau Prep desktop app (now known as “Tableau Prep Builder”), is actually part of a new product called the Data Management Add-on. This is, as the name suggests, an add-on product to Tableau Server and those Prep Builder users who want to schedule their flows will do so through publishing to their existing Tableau Server environment where the Data Management Add-on is active. A flow author will select one of the Flow schedules available on the Server (there is a new Schedule type to add to the already existing Extract and Subscription schedules) and can chose which of the outputs of the flow will be written to the site.

As well as scheduling, Conductor of course will allow server administrators to monitor all the flows being published and scheduled, receive alerts for failed jobs and so on in order to have a proper overview of the environment and therefore understand what this might mean for load/compute demand. A new Server Admin view has appeared in the Server Status Analysis page called ‘Flow Performance History’ which gives a simple overview viz of all the running jobs, the time they took, their success status and so on. We suspect this data could be queried just like all the other data in the Tableau Server internal postgres DB and there’ll be plenty of new custom vizzes for this data coming out of the community soon!

The Flow Performance History admin view

Later this year, the Data Management Add-on will additionally include a Data Catalogue offering. This is still in development at this time, but it promises to offer end users of Tableau Server an ability to easily see relationships between data sources and workbooks, lineage tracking, metadata search, enhanced descriptions and tags and data ‘certification’ status. Tableau demonstrated some upcoming data management and governance capabilities at their 2016 conference 3-year roadmap keynote session – it felt like some of this development had been put on the back-burner so we hope to see much of the previewed capabilities appear soon with the data catalogue offering later in 2019.

Licencing

The Data Management Add-on does require a separate purchase on-top of Tableau Server – it is priced at $5.50 per user per month, so $66 per year or around £50 for our UK readers. Whilst this seems simple, a key aspect to bear in mind is that ALL users on Tableau Server need to be licenced if you want to enable the Data Management Add-on.

For example, if you have 100 users in total, you will licence all 100 users. i.e. the cost will be 100 x £50 = £5,000 per year for the Data Management Add-on. This might seem strange at first, since out of your 100 Server users perhaps only 5 or 10 Creators might be building flows that will be scheduled, but as the 100 total users, including end consumers of Dashboards through Viewer or Explorer licences are likely the ones who will see the value from the data coming out the flows, it makes sense for the entire user base to be covered. It follows that if you have the Data Management Add-on, new licences that you purchase will automatically include this increment.

“But what about core licences?”, I hear you cry! As Tableau’s primary licencing offering is now worked around a role-based / per user mechanism, it’s no surprise that the main messaging for the Data Management Add-on has also been user-based. Core licencing options have not been announced but we certainly don’t expect Tableau to exclude these customers from being able to get these benefits. If you’re in this position, get in touch with your account manager at The Information Lab, or at Tableau, to find out more.

At time of writing (Feb 2019) the Data Management Add-on is only available for Tableau Server – we expect Tableau online users to be able to take advantage from Q2.

Adoption

Prep Builder users automate a flow using a Prep schedule

We’ve certainly seen a lot of buzz about Tableau Prep Builder and our customers and clients have talked about many possibilities and use cases with us over the last 6-9 months. It’s probably fair to say, however, that use of Tableau Prep Builder has been mostly limited to small project POCs, community ‘experiments’ and testing/trying out of curiosity rather than for significant business implementation strategy. The biggest reason for lack of adoption so far has undoubtedly been an inability to schedule so with the Data Management Add-on we believe that will all change in the coming months.

There are several training options for would-be Tableau Prep Builder users, including Tableau’s own official 2-day training classes https://www.tableau.com/learn/classroom/prep held around the world, and The Information Lab’s free introductory ½ day workshop run from London https://www.meetup.com/Lets-talk-Data/events/. Tableau also run regular webinars on the topic https://www.tableau.com/learn/training/live/prep

The Information Lab also have plenty of very keen Tableau super gurus who are eager to answer your queries or help with your Flow builds if needed.

So that’s about it

We’ll be continuing to use Tableau Prep Builder, and now with access to Tableau Prep Conductor through the Data Management Add-on we can start automating everything! While Tableau release updates to Prep Builder capabilities around least once a month at the moment, it’s an exciting time for this new area for Tableau. As always, if you want to know more, please get in touch – info@theinformationlab.co.uk

Robin Kennedy

London, UK

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