How To Set Up Your Tableau Server Environments

Hi,

Guess what this post is about – yes TABLE CALCULATIONS…. haha. No chance. Talk to Jonathan Drummey about those. This is of course yet more info that I hope will help you guys set up a dream Enterprise Tableau deployment.

Today we are gonna talk about Environments – i.e. what Tableau environments should you create in your organisation to give your team the best chance of success and keep your lovely users happy?

As always, I’m not saying this is THE way to do it. There are tons of great setups out there. I’ll just tell you what we have. Feel free to suggest better methods in the comments.

 

Environments for your users

This section is concerned with environments that you will provide for your Tableau users to do their work. Typically this will follow the standard Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) environment definitions, but there are a few things you can do to add extra options for your users.

These are the environments our users have at their disposal:

  • Production – The main business & user facing environment. Content published here is authoritative, follows best practice (hopefully) and is actively supported.
  • Testing – aka UAT. Generally used for final testing of uploaded content
  • Development – The environment where content is first shared as part of the development process.
  • Scratch – An extra environment for content that doesn’t need environment management. E.g. User wants to temporarily share content with a couple of colleagues.

Providing these environments gives users crucial options and flexibility. Your Tableau service will most likely serve many different business areas and teams, each with different practices for content development and release management. Some teams will rigorously follow Systems Development Lifecycle (SDLC) processes, creating content in development, promoting to User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and then eventually to Production. Other teams are totally happy to change content directly in Production, as and when they feel like it.

Crucially we don’t mandate what our users do, it’s a self-service model and so long as they follow their own due-diligence and governance procedures then that’s cool with me. The important thing is that we give them options to work with Tableau in the way that they want. If they break anything then they know it’s down to them.

The scratch environment is an interesting concept. It started with good intentions but realistically not many people are using it. So it looks like we might bin that.

Note that we use Tableau sites to segregate our environments.

 

Environments for your team

This is different from the above user-facing environments. These are the environments that your team uses for the service you provide. Obviously all this costs money in terms of hardware procurement and usage, depending on the spec you choose.

  • Production – Main environment that serves your users. In our environment this also includes the UAT, Development & Scratch sites for users – but we class it all as production. That might seem odd, but remember that many teams will be development teams, and to them the development site / area is their equivalent of production. So if the development site is down then they can’t work.
  • Disaster Recovery (DR) – For use in the event of a Production outage that can’t be easily restored. Exact same spec as Production. Totally identical, so that config can be restored and this server can be used as Production. You’ll need to make sure this environment gets the same upgrades as your Production environment.
  • UAT – This is UAT for my team. If we want to make a change to Production, it gets final testing here. This environment is also the exact same spec as Production to ensure an accurate test. If it fails here then it’s likely to fail in Production as well. We use UAT for testing maintenance releases, config changes and other potentially disruptive non-Tableau related changes to the server. Additionally, we make this environment available to users for a couple of weeks UAT prior to releasing new versions to production.
  • Engineering – Lower spec than prod & UAT. For testing the latest available release from Tableau. That is likely to be a higher version than production. Is useful for spotting bugs in new versions or confirming that bug-fixes work.
  • Beta Test – We are proud to be part of Tableau’s pre-release testing audience. We use this server to test releases in the Beta programme. Lower spec than engineering. To the point that the server only just meets the minimum requirements.
  • Alpha Test – We use this to test the alpha releases or any extra work we may be doing with developers at Tableau. We love to be involved in the genesis of new functionality.

So that’s what we are lucky enough to have. It’s not perfect but it allows us to give our users a ton of flexibility in how they use Tableau, and also my own team always has a place to test new releases, plan upgrades and help Tableau with their pre-release programmes.

Interested to see what the community has in terms of environments. Let me know in the comments. Remember there are a load of other posts on this blog about Enterprise Tableau considerations.

Cheers, Paul

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Happy….

# Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof…#

williamsStupid line that. Although you gotta hand it to our silly-hatted friend – it’s a catchy tune. And today it captures just how I’m feeling, cos it’s been a rather good week so far. Allow me to explain why…

You see, around 8 months or so ago I was a Tableau fan, but with pretty much no profile in the BI community. So I set about creating this blog (now over 10,000 hits btw) and interacting with the guys and gals on Twitter etc, meeting up for some beers, co-chairing the London Tableau User group as well as the odd viz of the day award – 4 of them to be precise….

And I’d always wondered if it was getting me anywhere. Sure I was enjoying it, but was anyone actually taking notice?

Then this week a whole bunch of stuff happened.

 

Me? Mentioned to the New York Stock Exchange??

So this was super-cool. My good friend @Matt_Francis pinged me a message that started with “Dude – are you sitting down? Cos you’re gonna lose your shit over this”. I wasn’t really sure what that meant as Matt is way more street than I am, but he then pinged me the following article.

At the bottom of page 2 it only had this from the Tableau CEO, Christian Chabot..

chabot_shout

That’s my viz being referred to as Christian’s favourite of the year so far! As featured in a recent post on VizNinja. Who’da thunk it eh? My work getting a shout out from the main man in an earnings call to the NYSE. As they say in Blighty – Cor Blimey! In your face #ironviz! 🙂

Speaking at TC14

Then on the same day I had an email from Morgan W at Tableau. They wanted me to speak at the Tableau Conference 2014 in Seattle. The highlight of the Tableau calendar, this was a really exciting gig and something that I’d set as a career goal. I’d better get practicing!

morgan

Video Nice-ty?

Today I got into work to find another bunch of emails from people at this weeks Tableau Sales Conference in Seattle.

Now I recall doing a customer testimonial video for Tableau a few months ago. That’s where I (and others) went along to Tableau HQ in London and said some stuff about how I’d found their sales team and other aspects of the organisation. They told me the video would be used in “a small internal sales meeting on a big monitor“.

Erm…

tab_sales_conf

That has to be the biggest image of my face ever made so far. What next? Project it onto the Houses of Parliament or something? Good profile for sure, but a tad embarrassing! At least I wasn’t alone with Paul Chapman (@cheeky_chappie) suffering the same fate!

I guess the message from all of this is – if you’re a new blogger, and you think no-one is taking any notice of your stuff, then think again – cos they probably are. And you’ll get some pleasant surprises when you least expect them.

So all in all a good few days. It’s given me a nice (legal) shot in the arm ready for the next viz. Big thanks to all that have given support and encouragement this week.

Regards, Paul