Six improvements to Tableau Server 8.1

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Daniel Montgomery

Gabriel Gejman’s last post covered some of the upcoming improvements for Tableau Desktop 8.1 and 8.2 that were announced at this year’s Tableau Customer Conference. Not to be outshined, Tableau Server also has a number of new features and enhancements coming down the pike. Here’s six enhancements to look forward to in Tableau Server.


One of the great features of Tableau is that it uses in-memory storage of data to support the dashboards and worksheets that users create. This allows for faster retrieval and processing of the data stored in a Tableau Data Extract (TDE). In Tableau Server 8.1, the Tableau architecture has been written to take advantage of 64-bit processing, enabling the application to take advantage of amounts of memory previously not thought possible (Windows Server 2012 64-bit, for instance, can support 8,000 GB or 8 TB of memory—almost all of which Tableau 64-bit will be able to utilize).

Enterprise single sign-on via SAML

Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) is an XML-based open standard for authenticating user logins. Previously, Tableau only supported direct login or Active Directory connections. Now, companies that are using the SAML protocol for their users can connect Tableau directly into their established authentication method.

Hostnames and automatic gateway failover

Tableau has made it very easy to set up a multi-server Tableau environment to handle task distribution as well as failover. Now, with Tableau 8.1, two new features make setting this environment up even easier.

  1. When setting up a distributed environment to handle task distribution as well as backups, Tableau now allows admins to connect all the appropriate servers using hostnames instead of IP addresses. This not only makes the setup more user-friendly, but also gives server admins the flexibility to readdress servers as needed.
  2. Rather than setting up a gateway failover within Tableau, Tableau 8.1 can now be set up to use an external load balancer to handle gateway duties. By configuring an external load balancer, admins can eliminate the single machine risk and improve the resiliency of the deployment.

Permissions enhancements

In an effort to continue to be easy to use as well as flexible, default permissions in 8.1 can be controlled by project leaders for a specific project. This enables dashboard publishers to not have to assign permissions for every workbook they deploy, or inherit permissions that are not relevant to their project. Default permissions can still be fine-tuned by the publisher, but the starting point set of permissions is now customizable on a project-by-project basis. Tableau 8.1 has also enabled the ability to look inside a group to see its members when assigning permissions to provide immediate transparency to what people will be allowed to see.

User display & alerting

As graphics resolution display continues to evolve and improve in computers, so should the content that is filling those screens. With Tableau 8.1, users with high-resolution displays will now view much more beautiful and graphically detailed Tableau dashboards. Web users of all screen resolutions will now also be able to see alerts if their data extract has failed, or see when their data was last updated. This keeps the users more informed about what data they’re viewing and reduce system admins from over-alerting users when there are issues.

Mobile and web

Tableau 8.0 introduced the ability to manipulate and alter views within a web browser or on a mobile device, continuing the company’s mission of making digging into data seamless and easy. Tableau 8.1 brings a number of enhancements to that groundbreaking feature set, including resizing windows, turning marks on/off, renaming sheets, and the ability to refresh a data extract. The Tableau mobile app will give users the ability to quickly change sites and quickly download workbooks.

Nothing but the best for Tableau customers

With the improvements to Server 8.1, Tableau is making use of the latest technologies in the marketplace in both hardware and software, staying on the cusp of marketplace capabilities. They have also continued to make Tableau easier to use for architects and more powerful for end users, never ceasing to rest on their mission to make software invisible to the user while driving incredible value.

For Slalom, the Tableau 8.1 enhancements mean we can continue to offer the best possible solutions for our clients, turn around deliverables even faster, and enable enterprises to empower their employees and customers at a speed and ease like never before.

About Dan Montgomery
Dan Montgomery is an Information Management Consultant, specializing in using data discovery, data modeling, and database development to work directly with business units to solve problems. He has worked on projects primarily in the services and real estate industries, helping business units tell a story with their data through creative uses of industry technologies.

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