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Authentication verifies a user's identity. Everyone who needs to access Tableau Server—whether to manage the server, or to publish, browse, or administer content—must be represented as a user in the Tableau Server identity store. The method of authentication may be performed by Tableau Server (“local authentication”), or authentication may be performed by an external process. In the latter case, you must configure Tableau Server for external authentication technologies such as Active Directory, SAML, or OpenID. In all cases, whether authentication takes place locally or is external, each user identity must be represented in the Tableau Server identity store, which is managed by the repository.

Access and management permissions are implemented through site roles. Site roles define which users are administrators, and which users are content consumers and publishers on the server. For more information about administrators, site roles, groups, Guest User, and user-related administrative tasks, see Users and Site Roles for Users.

Note: In the context of authentication, it’s important to understand that users are not authorized to access external data sources through Tableau Server by virtue of having an account on the server. In other words, in the default configuration, Tableau Server does not act as a proxy to external data sources. Such access requires additional configuration of the data source on Tableau Server or authentication at the data source when the user connects from Tableau Desktop.

User identity in Tableau Server

When you install Tableau Server, you must select the process that the server will use to manage user authentication: local authentication or Active Directory. Before you install Tableau Server, you should understand how these two options impact your overall authentication strategy. After you select and set the authentication process, Tableau Server will configure the various components for the authentication method that you have selected. After this configuration is complete, you cannot change the authentication method. In fact, to change this configuration, you must uninstall the server, delete the configuration on the computer, and then reinstall the server.

Local authentication

If the server is configured to use local authentication, then the Tableau Server identity store is used exclusively to authenticate users. When users sign-in and enter their credentials, either through Tableau Desktop, tabcmd, API, or web client, Tableau Server verifies the credentials.

To enable this scenario, you must first create an identity for each user. To create an identity, you specify a username and a password. To access or interact with content on the server, users must also be assigned a site role. User identities can be added to Tableau Server in the server UI, using tabcmd commands, or using the REST API.

You can also create groups in Tableau Server to help manage and assign roles to large sets of related user groups (e.g., “Marketing”).

Use local authentication if any of the following are true:

  • Your organization does not manage users with Active Directory
  • You do not want to use Active Directory
  • You want to use OpenID for authentication and single sign-on

When you configure Tableau Server for local authentication, you cannot set password policies or account lockout on failed password attempts. If you require these account safeguards, then you should use Active Directory authentication.

Active Directory

If Tableau Server is configured to use Active Directory authentication, then credentials are managed and verified by Active Directory. When a user logs onto Tableau Server from Tableau Desktop or a web client, the credentials are passed through to Active Directory, which then verifies them and sends an access token to Tableau Server. Tableau Server will then manage user access to Tableau resources based on the site roles stored in the local identity store.

In this scenario, Tableau Server must be installed in a domain in Active Directory. Tableau Server will sync user and group metadata from Active Directory to the identity store. You do not have to manually add users. However, after the data is synchronized, you will need to assign site and server roles. You can assign these individually, or at the group level. Tableau Server does not synchronize any data back to Active Directory. Tableau Server manages content and server access according to the site role permission data is stored in the repository.

If you are already using Active Directory to manage users in your organization, then we recommend selecting Active Directory authentication during Tableau setup to make user provisioning and management easier. For example, by synchronizing Active Directory groups, you can set minimum site role Tableau permissions for users that are synchronized in the groups. You can synchronize specific Active Directory groups, or you can synchronize them all. For more information, see Synchronize All Active Directory Groups on the Server.

Be sure to review User Management in Active Directory Deployments to understand how multiple domains, domain naming, NetBIOS, and Active Directory user name format influence Tableau user management.

Data connection authentication

You can configure Tableau Server to support a number of different authentication protocols to various different data sources. Data connection authentication may be independent of Tableau Server authentication. For example, you may configure user authentication to Tableau Server using local authentication, while configuring Kerberos delegation, OAuth, or SAML authentication to specific data sources. See Data Connection Authentication.

Single sign-on options for Tableau Server

Tableau Server supports several single sign-on (SSO) solutions. With SSO, users don't have to sign in to Tableau Server explicitly. Instead, the credentials they've used to authenticate already (for example, by signing in to your corporate network) are used to authenticate them to Tableau Server, and they can skip the step of entering a user name and password. With SSO, the user's identity as established externally is mapped to a user identity defined in the Tableau Server identity store.

When you configure Tableau Server to use an SSO solution, all authentication is handled by the SSO solution. However, Tableau Server will manage user access to Tableau resources based on the site roles stored in the identity store and permissions set on those resources.

Tableau Server supports these types of SSO:

  • SAML.You can configure Tableau Server to use SAML (security assertion markup language) for SSO. With SAML, an external identity provider (IdP) authenticates the user's credentials, and then sends a security assertion to Tableau Server that provides information about the user's identity.

    You can use SAML to access Tableau Server if you have configured Active Directory or local authentication on Tableau Server. For more information, see SAML.

  • Kerberos. If Kerberos is enabled in your environment and if the server is configured to use Active Directory authentication, you can provide users with access to Tableau Server based on their Windows identities. You cannot use Kerberos if your Tableau Server is configured for local authentication. For more information, see Kerberos.

  • OpenID. OpenID Connect is a standard authentication protocol that lets users sign in to an identity provider (IdP) such as Google. After they've successfully signed in to their IdP, they are automatically signed in to Tableau Server. To use OpenID Connect on Tableau Server, the server must be configured to use local authentication. Active Directory authentication is not supported. For more information, see OpenID Connect.

  • Trusted Authentication. Trusted authentication lets you set up a trusted relationship between Tableau Server and one or more web servers. When Tableau Server receives requests from a trusted web server, it assumes that the web server has already handled whatever authentication is necessary. Tableau Server receives the request with a redeemable token or ticket and presents the user with a personalized view which takes into consideration the user’s role and permissions. For more information, see Trusted Authentication.

  • Integrated Windows Authentication. If you have configured Tableau Server with Active Directory authentication, you can enable automatic logon. Automatic logon uses Microsoft SSPI to sign in your users based on their Windows user name and password. Users are not prompted for credentials, which creates an experience similar to single sign-on (SSO). To enable automatic logon see, Configure General Server Options.

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