Installing Tableau Server
This chapter describes how to install Tableau Server and perform essential configuration steps to get the server up and running. Installing the software is the first step to sharing and connecting to workbooks. Later chapters of this guide describe how to configure Tableau Server so users can connect from anywhere to share, view, and publish data.
In this chapter
In the previous chapter (Planning Your Deployment) you figured out:
How you're going to license your server (by users or by cores).
What hardware you'll need in order to run your server.
How your users are going to authenticate with Tableau Server—either using Windows Active Directory or using local authentication on Tableau Server.
Whether you need to create a domain account for the Run As User account.
Right? If not, go back and spend some time on these issues. This is where an ounce of prevention really does save a pound of cure. For example, if you go through this chapter and guess at the authentication configuration, and you get it wrong … well, you'll have to uninstall the server and start over. Or worse, if you undersize your hardware specs for the usage your organization requires, then eventually everyone will be grumpy because things run too slowly.
Before you install
Compared to about 98.7% of the other server products on the planet, Tableau Server has an amazingly simple install program. Still, there are a few things you must do before you proceed.
Make sure you have the right version of Tableau Server software
Our recommendation is this: use the same version (for example, version 9.3) of Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server across your organization. To get the latest version of Tableau Server software, go to the Customer Portal. When you purchase Tableau, you get a user name and password to sign in to the Customer Portal.
To get an older version of Tableau Server, go to Tableau Server Product Downloads and Release Notes.
If you're in a situation where you must run different versions of Tableau on different computers, read the article Desktop and Server Compatibility.
Get a product key and make sure you're registered
Using the user name and password that you received when you purchased Tableau, go to the Customer Portal and get your product key.
Also make sure that you've registered an email address. We need a contact email to associate with each product key. You should provide us with an email address that is checked frequently and that will not expire.
Make sure you have Administrator permissions
To run the Tableau Server installation program, you must be signed in to the computer as a "local admin"—a user who's a member of the Administrators group in the Local Users and Groups management console in Windows. The "local" part means that you're an administrator for the local computer only, not for any other resources or computers on the network.
You can install Tableau Server as a local administrator even if you're running in an environment that uses Active Directory, which your security-minded IT person will appreciate. (You might need to be an Active Directory user when you configure the Run As User account, which is a post-installation task that we'll cover later.)
Make sure you're installing on a "clean" computer
As we discussed in the planning chapter, we recommend that you install Tableau Server on a computer that's dedicated to running Tableau Server. Here's why:
Performance. As Tableau Desktop users discover the data liberation that Tableau Server enables, they'll use Tableau Server to share data sources, and to view, share, and host workbooks as part of their daily decision making process. This data transformation requires a server computer that is fast and stable. Tuning performance is much more straightforward when Tableau Server is not competing with other resources, especially other database applications.
Security. A general security best practice is to segregate server applications as much as possible. Tableau Server acts as a conduit between your users and data that might be spread across your network. Tableau Server also stores extracts of your important data. All Tableau Software is built with disciplined security engineering practices, and we do a lot of work to protect data, accounts, and sensitive information with our default installation. But to reduce the risk of security incidents, you should reduce the attack surface of the computer running Tableau Server by removing (or not installing) other server software.
Interoperability. A highly experienced administrator can get Tableau Software to interoperate happily with lots of other server software that might be installed on the same computer. But we're assuming that you want to minimize the time you spend manually configuring the server.
For example, if the server computer has Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) installed on it, then it's likely that IIS will already be configured to use port 80, which means that port won't be available for Tableau Server. Sure, you can configure Tableau Server to use a different port, like 8000. But that means that anytime your users connect to Tableau Server, they'll have to put that port number into the URL (
http://your-server:8000/). You can see how this would pretty much guarantee a steady stream of emails to you about how to connect to Tableau Server. It's not pretty and it's not conducive to a data revolution. Best practice, therefore, is to make sure Tableau Server has the server computer all to itself.
Ready? Let's lay those bits down …
Step 1: Run Server Setup
After you download the Tableau Server installation file, double-click the installation file and then follow the on-screen instructions to complete setup and install the application.
Choose an installation path
We recommend that you let the setup process install Tableau Server in the default path (
C:\Program Files\Tableau\Tableau Server). If you change paths,
you might need to set some permissions manually after setup. If you
do specify a different path, be sure to read
Verify Folder Permission.
After installation completes, click Next to open the Activate Tableau window.
Step 2: Activate and register Tableau Server
Click through the setup pages and follow instructions for activating and registering the software. Tableau Server requires at least one product key that is used both to activate the server and to set your license type (user-based or core-based).
If the computer running Tableau Server is not connected to the internet, then you'll have to activate the server offline. If this is your situation, be sure to read Activate Tableau Offline.
Step 3: Configure essential Tableau Server settings
After you finish activating and registering, the Tableau Server Configuration options page appears.
We'll be coming back to this page in future chapters of this guide, but for now, you must set the authentication type. If your deployment plan requires updating that account to an Active Directory user account, we also recommend setting Run As User now.
Lastly, if you've installed Tableau Server onto a computer where you're running another application that is listening on port 80, you'll need to determine how you are going to resolve that conflict.
Set Run As User
If you have determined that your deployment plan requires updating the Run As User account with a domain account, enter that account in the User field. Include the domain name with the user name—for example,
example\TableauRunAsAccount. Enter the password that you created for this account.
Set the authentication type
Under User Authentication, set the authentication type.
Make sure you've got the authentication type right
Make sure that you've set this appropriately before you click OK. Clicking OK here sets the authentication type for the life of this server installation. If you want to change it after that, you have to reinstall Tableau Server.
The default is local authentication, so you only need to change this if you're going to use Active Directory authentication.
If you're going to use Active Directory, select Use Active Directory. Then in the Domain box, enter the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of your domain, and in the Nickname box, enter the domain's nickname.
The nickname is the left-most node of the FQDN. The first time your users sign in, they'll need to use the fully qualified domain name (for example,
example.com\jsmith). On subsequent sign-ins, they can use the nickname (
You can enable automatic logon here , which will allow your users to bypass entering their credentials after they've signed in to a computer in the domain. Do not select Enable automatic logon if you plan to configure Tableau Server for SAML, trusted authentication, or if you will be deploying a reverse proxy server to enable internet access to the content on this Tableau Server. If you're not sure at this point, then don't select Enable automatic logon. Leaving this option unchecked only means that your users must enter credentials when they sign in.
Set the port
If the port number displayed in the Gateway section says 80, you're golden.
If the port number isn't 80 (for example, it's 8000), you'll need to figure out what application on the server computer has already claimed HTTP port 80. (As noted earlier, if port 80 unavailable, it's often because Microsoft IIS is running on the server computer.)
If you're not sure how to proceed here, bring in an IT expert in to help.
If you must have other applications on the server that default to use port 80, we recommend that you reset ports on those other applications so that Tableau Server can use port 80.
Save the settings
Tableau Server saves the configuration changes, which can take a short while. If the Tableau Server Configuration window displays (Not Responding) as it makes changes, don't worry—this is normal. Wait it out.
When the settings are saved, you'll see the following dialog box:
Click OK to launch the final configuration phase of setup. During this phase, the following window appears. As it says, it might run for a short while.
Step 4: Create a Tableau Server administrator user
The final step is to add an administrator user for Tableau Server. After the configuration is all set, Tableau launches your browser and presents a page where you set the administrator user for Tableau Server.
The Tableau Server administrator is a user within Tableau Server who can manage all aspects of Tableau, including managing sites, users, groups, and projects, plus change server configuration settings.
To be clear: the Tableau Server administrator is not a Windows account—it's a user identity that's internal to Tableau Server.
Adding an administrator user differs depending on whether you are using Active Directory or local authentication:
If you're using local authentication, enter a user name, display name, and a password (twice), and then click Add User.
If you're using Active Directory authentication, enter the user name and password for an existing Active Directory user, and then click Add User. The user must be a domain user. No other Active Directory permissions are required.
In either case, Tableau Server creates the administrator user.
Keep the user name and password for the administrator in a secure place! First, the administrator user in Tableau Server has complete control over the server, so make sure that the credentials are kept secret. Second, you need these credentials to create additional users on the server, and this user is your ultimate entry point into the server if something happens.
You can add or change server admin accounts anytime. We'll cover that later in the Creating Users chapter.
Your server is installed!
After you create the administrator user, you're signed in as the administrator to Tableau Server, using the web interface. You can poke around the UI to get a sense of what you can do. You can also try publishing a workbook to the server from Tableau Desktop.
But before you roll out Tableau Server to all colleagues, you must perform a few more steps. First: back up your server. Even though you don't have any users or data on your Tableau Server, you should do a quick back up. Our back up is quick and straightforward. The next chapter, Backing Up Tableau Server, provides the essential steps.
After you back up the server, you'll probably want to secure access to your server by configuring SSL and (optionally) providing secure access from internet clients.
After that, we'll describe how to add users, create groups, and then configure projects so the right people have access to the right content.
Continue to Backing Up Tableau Server.