Tableau on Azure

“Tell us about Tableau on Azure”. “Does Tableau run on Azure?” There is probably no more confusing question at the moment, because the terminology for Microsoft Azure is unclear, and Microsoft have been making changes to both the technology and the nomenclature so quickly that it’s best to step back and understand the ways in which Tableau can interact with the Azure platform.

There are three different situations can fall under the “Tableau and Azure” moniker, all of which are possible:

  1. Tableau Server hosted on a Virtual Machine in Azure
  2. Tableau Desktop or Server connecting to the Microsoft run and operated Azure SQL Database
  3. Tableau Desktop or Server connecting to a database (often Microsoft SQL Server) on a hosted Virtual Machine in Azure

Tableau Server on a hosted VM

Much like AWS, Tableau Server can be run on a hosted VM in the Microsoft Azure cloud. Russell Christopher has done an excellent job of testing out the available VM and storage configurations available in Azure and making recommendations on what is necessary for good performance with Tableau Server. If you want to host Tableau Server on Azure, stop now and read Russell’s blog.

In virtualized environments, disk access / IOPS tends to be the biggest hidden issue for Tableau Server performance, particularly if you are using extracts. This is true of Azure, AWS, and also your internal VMWare configuration.

The official Tableau KB article on installing Tableau Server on Azure is now available here .

Tableau Desktop and Server connecting to Azure SQL Database

Here is where the wording gets fun (i.e. confusing). As if “SQL Server” wasn’t already a generic enough name, Microsoft refers to their managed and hosted cloud database, based on “SQL Server”, as “Azure SQL Database”. Internally, it is very similar to SQL Server, and as of Tableau 9.1, you simply connect via the standard Tableau native connector for Microsoft SQL Server. Put in your credentials, and you are good to go.

Tableau Desktop and Server connecting to a Microsoft SQL Server database on a hosted VM in Azure

You can also put a database (usually Microsoft SQL Server) on a hosted VM in Azure. Luckily, to Tableau Desktop and Server, the process for connecting is identical to that of any SQL Server connection: put in your credentials and viola!

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