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howdoesthatwork
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How does Tableau connect to my data?

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I’ll try to do a series of posts regarding to our top 5 questions that we get at our customer meetings. To kick things off we’ll start with the more than popular: “Could you please explain how Tableau is connecting to my data or where it is being stored?”

We get that people tend to worry about their data. Especially IT it is very curious about what Tableau is doing with the all the data after it connected to it. Also we’re hearing a lot of ideas that Tableau only can extract data for example… There is a lot of assumption and perception out there so we’re here to clarify.
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Perception is created and twisted so quickly.
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Get to your data, live or in-memory,
in seconds.

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That’s a direct title from the Tableau website. The platform offers you the solution to connect to your data live or in memory using it’s native connectors to source systems. There are more than 40 connectors available out of the box, you can check them here.  There is no need to worry about the security of your data.

If you choose to connect live to your data using Tableau Desktop you can later publish this data source on your Tableau server. This allows you to provide responsible access to your data and keep it maintained by the server.. Tableau Server can be run as a On Premise solution or alternatively bought as Tableau Online (cloud based). The platform supports your data security applied to the sources and and supports various solutions like using Active Directory with single sign-on or Kerberos authentication. Obviously Tableau Server also offers security built-in the platform when your data sources have none applied.

The other option is the extract. This is convenient when it comes to performance. It is a compressed data snapshot of data stored on disk and loaded into memory. Also security measures applied on the database are automatically taken into account when extracts are being made or used. This allows you not to burden source databases too much and browse the whole dataset in a fast and fluent way. Tableau Server can maintain the extract and refresh the source incrementally on user selected timeframes. We won’t go too much into details about the technical aspect, I suggest if you want a good read on how they are built you can check out: Understanding Tableau Data Extracts Design
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The beauty of it all? Combine live & extracts.

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Tableau’s powerful platform allows you to combine various data sources. It doesn’t matter when datasources are live or extracts. Both live and extracted datasources can be combined together in worksheets & dashboards. One application to think of is that you could extract a few years of historical data and join this with the last 24h in a live connection.

Enough for this high level post about Tableau and connecting it to your data. It doesn’t magically get moved somwehere in a cloud or other perceptions that are out there. If you want more questions about Tableau or need a demo? Don’t hesitate to talk to me.
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