Tableau Software, maker of the Tableau data exploration and visualization tool adored by many, made headlines two months ago as it launched a successful initial public offering. Today, the company moves from the New York Stock Exchange to the cloud, with its Tableau Online cloud service.
Tableau already had some important precursors in place for this offering: the latest release of the product, Tableau 8, brought full authoring capabilities to the browser. And the Tableau Public service, which has been available for over three years, provides a free service allowing creation of visualizations on data stored in Excel spreadsheets or flat files, with the ability to publish and share those visualizations online.
What it is
With those key components in place, the new Tableau Online (should we call it TOL?) service makes perfect sense: it's a hosted installation of Tableau 8, running on the company's own multi-tenant cloud infrastructure. Tableau Online is usable from a Web browser, but is also compatible with Tableau Desktop, the latter being sold under a conventional software licensing model.
Show me the data
Tableau Online can connect to cloud-based data sources like Salesforce.com, Google BigQuery and Amazon Redshift with ease. If you'd like to connect to your own on-premise data, you will need at least one license to Tableau Desktop, which includes tools for pushing data to the Tableau server in the cloud.
While you might be tempted to poke a hole in your firewall and expose your data source directly to Tableau Online instead, that won't work. That's because data sources for Tableau Online must be white-listed by Tableau itself. This is an intentional policy on the part of Tableau, and one the company believes will make for a better experience.
Tableau Online is available immediately, at an annual cost of $500 per user. This works out to a monthly cost of $41.67 per user, which makes it in-line with, or even less expensive than, certain online CRM offerings. Tableau Public will continue to be available.