The ability to efficiently visualize and analyze data is essential for businesses of all sizes, especially as data grows in size and complexity. Over the last decade, Tableau has emerged as a leading data visualization tool, helping organizations see and understand their data to improve decision-making and drive growth.
As organizations look to unlock their data advantage, understanding Tableau's cost structure is crucial when evaluating a true total cost of ownership and determining whether it's the right tool for your needs.
This comprehensive guide will address the most common questions related to Tableau's pricing, providing a detailed breakdown of the different license types, their product features, and factors to consider when determining the total cost of implementing Tableau in your organization. As a Premier Tableau partner, DataDrive aims to help you make a data-informed decision about investing in Tableau and optimizing its value for your organization. Let's get to it!
Tableau's Licensing Models & Pricing
A key aspect of understanding Tableau's pricing structure is familiarizing yourself with the various licensing types and general deployment options. Tableau primarily offers a subscription-based pricing model, which means you pay an annual fee for each user to access the platform. Tableau's current subscription model ensures that users always have access to the latest features and updates, which comes in handy with Tableau’s quarterly product release cycle. This per-user approach also provides a predictable cost structure, making it easier for organizations to budget for their Tableau investment.
Tableau also offers unique embedded pricing options for organizations looking to expose their Tableau dashboards and insights in other applications. Embedded pricing includes options for either user-based licensing (as described in this blog post) or usage-based pricing (rolled out in Q4 2022). As the name implies, usage-based pricing is beneficial to deployments that have large audiences with light, sporadic dashboard usage. Embedded pricing isn’t publicly posted, so you will need to contact a Tableau sales representative to dig into your best option.
Types of Tableau Licenses
Tableau offers three primary license types to cater to different user roles and data analysis needs within an organization:
Designed for advanced users who create and publish content, including data connections, data sources, and dashboards. One Creator license is required for a Tableau deployment, and you receive a lot of capabilities (described below).
Tailored for casual users who consume and interact with published content but do not create or modify it. There is quite a bit of functionality packed into a Viewer license that includes interacting with published dashboards, setting up custom views, and receiving subscriptions - it’s a compelling offer at a reasonable price.
New to Tableau? Check out the 'What is Tableau' Guide!
Pricing of Tableau Server and Tableau Cloud (fka Online)
The cost of Tableau licenses may vary depending on whether you choose Tableau Server (on-premises) or Tableau Cloud (hosted solution) as your deployment option. As a completely hosted solution, Tableau Cloud's licensing fees are slightly higher due to the additional services and infrastructure provided. Alternatively, choosing Tableau Server usually incurs additional costs for hardware, maintenance, and support beyond your Tableau licensing, which should be factored into your overall cost assessment.
Since Salesforce’s acquisition of Tableau in 2019, Tableau Cloud has seen a notable increase in innovation and integration with Salesforce’s broader cloud-centric product offerings. As a Tableau Partner, our DataDrive team recommends Tableau Cloud for many deployments because of the lower overhead in managing upgrades and platform upkeep. The cost of a quality Tableau Server administrator can add up quickly, whereas Tableau Cloud would not require that skillset.
Tableau Creator License
The Tableau Creator license is designed for power users who need full capabilities to create, publish, and manage content within Tableau. This license type suits data analysts, developers, and other advanced users who work closely with data to build visualizations and dashboards. Each unique Tableau deployment requires at least one Creator to connect and publish data sources for others.
The Tableau Creator license provides users with access to the full range of Tableau's features, including:
Tableau Desktop (flagship product for creating visualizations)
Tableau Prep Builder (visualized ‘ETL’ for data preparation and cleaning)
Tableau Cloud/Server publishing and content management access
The primary benefit of a Creator license is access to Tableau Desktop for connecting to a wide array of data sources and building interactive dashboards for others to consume. While the Explorer license has similar capabilities to build dashboards within the browser, Tableau Desktop is the longest-tenured software in Tableau’s product suite and is the preferred tool for many experienced Tableau developers.
Tableau Desktop is also how the Creator license can connect, publish, share, and manage data source connections for other users to consume on Tableau Server and Cloud.
Fully released in 2018, Tableau Prep Builder is a powerful data preparation tool that is used to clean, shape, and combine data from multiple sources. Tableau Prep pairs nicely with Tableau Desktop to ensure clean, tidy data sets are correctly structured for building powerful visualizations and interactive analysis. While Tableau Prep is not meant to be a full-fledged ETL solution, the software does allow analysts to create powerful data workflows through a visual, click-and-drag interface that would otherwise require in-depth SQL knowledge.
Priced the same for either Tableau Server or Cloud, the cost of a Tableau Creator license is $70 per user per month, billed annually, amounting to $840 per user per year (as of March 2023).
Tableau Explorer and Viewer Licenses
Tableau Explorer and Viewer licenses cater to users with different levels of interaction and involvement with data and visualizations. These licenses are generally less expensive than a Tableau Creator license, making them a cost-effective option for users who don't require the full range of Tableau's capabilities.
Tableau Explorer licenses are designed for users who interact with and modify existing content but do not create new content from scratch. This license type allows users to explore published data sources, create custom views in the browser, and share their findings with others. Explorers can be a cost-effective way to give developer-like access to power users, without the price tag of a Creator license.
Tableau Viewer licenses, on the other hand, are tailored for users who primarily consume and interact with published content. Viewer licenses offer compelling interactivity, such as filtering data and exporting visualizations but do not allow users to create or modify content. Tableau Viewers still have the ability to save custom views and subscribe to email subscriptions. As the cheapest license option, I would strongly encourage starting with Viewer licenses and waiting for the Explorer license needs to arise.
The key differences between Explorer and Viewer licenses are dashboard/report modification and the ability to share content with others. Explorers can connect to published data sources and create new reports and dashboards from scratch directly in the browser. Viewers can only interact with existing reports. Explorers also have the ability to create and share dashboards, subscriptions, and data-driven alerts with others, whereas Viewers can not.
Lastly, an Explorer has the ability to download the full data (i.e. row-level), but a Viewer is limited to only the (aggregated) data on the visualization. This can be a big driving factor for needing Explorer licenses.
The cost of Tableau Explorer and Viewer licenses depends on the chosen deployment option (Tableau Server or Tableau Cloud). For Tableau Server, Explorer licenses cost $35 per user per month, billed annually ($420 per user per year), while Viewer licenses cost $12 per user per month, billed annually ($144 per user per year).
For Tableau Cloud, Explorer licenses are priced at $42 per user per month, billed annually ($504 per user per year), and Viewer licenses are priced at $15 per user per month, billed annually ($180 per user per year).
The True Cost of Tableau
When considering the investment in Tableau, it's important to consider for the various factors that contribute to the total cost of ownership, beyond the cost of licenses. These factors can have a significant impact on your organization's overall expenses related to Tableau implementation and maintenance.
Factors that Impact the Total Cost of Ownership:
- Number of licenses and user types
- The total cost will depend on the number of users and the mix of Creator, Explorer, and Viewer licenses required for your organization.
- Deployment type (Tableau Server vs. Tableau Cloud)
- Choosing Tableau Server may involve additional costs for hardware, maintenance, and support, while Tableau Cloud's licensing fees are generally higher due to the included services and infrastructure.
- Required training and support
- Implementing Tableau may require training for your team, either through Tableau's official training programs or third-party providers like DataDrive. The cost of training and ongoing support should be factored into the total investment as it will ultimately drive adoption and long-term success.
- Additional infrastructure and maintenance costs (for Tableau Server)
- If you opt for Tableau Server, consider the costs of hardware, server maintenance, IT support, and other related expenses that may be incurred.
Tableau may be perceived as expensive due to its features and capabilities catering to various user roles and data analysis needs. The value it brings to organizations regarding improved decision-making, increased efficiency, and better insights may justify the investment. While Tableau pricing may seem expensive, each license type - particularly a Creator license - includes a healthy array of products, functionality, and access that should be considered when comparing directly against other software vendors.
As a platform, Tableau Cloud offers powerful features like email subscriptions, data-driven alerts, natural language data analysis, enterprise-grade security, robust user management, and data refresh scheduling that packs a lot of functionality into one price tag.
When evaluating Tableau's costs, consider the following factors:
- Time savings
- Tableau's powerful visualization and data analysis capabilities can save time and resources compared to manual processes or less sophisticated tools. Tableau’s unique interface for building visualizations allows non-technical users to click and drag to create compelling insights without ever writing a line of SQL code.
- Improved decision-making
- With better insights from data, your organization can make more informed decisions, leading to better outcomes and increased revenue.
- Collaboration and knowledge sharing
- Tableau's platform fosters collaboration, enabling users to share insights and work together more effectively (and it is included with each license type).
- As your organization grows and your data analysis needs evolve, Tableau scales to accommodate increased demands without impacting the end user experience.
Free and Discounted Tableau Options
While Tableau may seem costly for some organizations, there are free and discounted options available that may help reduce the financial burden and provide an opportunity to explore Tableau's capabilities before committing to a full investment.
Tableau Public is a free version of Tableau designed for users who want to share their data visualizations and dashboards publicly. While it lacks some of the features and data source connections available in the paid versions, Tableau Public is a great way to learn and experiment with the platform completely free.
Tableau Student and Academic Programs
Tableau offers free licenses to students and discounted licenses for academic institutions through their academic programs. This allows students and educators to access Tableau's features and tools at a significantly reduced cost or for free, fostering data literacy and skills development in educational settings.
Tableau's 14-day Free Trial
For those who want to explore the full range of Tableau's features before making a purchase, Tableau offers a 14-day free trial for Tableau. This trial provides access to Tableau's powerful analytics and visualization capabilities, allowing you to assess its value for your organization before committing to an annual commitment. DataDrive specializes in helping organizations make the most use of their trial period with customized workshops and executive dashboard quickstart.
Tableau is a powerful and versatile data visualization tool that can provide significant benefits for organizations looking to gain insights from their data and make better-informed decisions. Understanding the cost structure, licensing options, and factors affecting the total cost of ownership is crucial when evaluating whether Tableau is the right investment for your organization.
If you're considering implementing Tableau in your organization and need expert assistance, DataDrive can provide the support you need, across implementation, dashboard development, and training to ensure a solid foundation for self-service analytics to thrive. Reach out to us today to discuss how we can help you unlock the full potential of Tableau for your organization.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Is Tableau free or paid?
Tableau offers both free and paid options. Tableau Public is a completely free version with limited data source connections and publishing options. In contrast, paid options include Tableau Creator, Explorer, and Viewer licenses for Tableau Cloud and Tableau Server.
How much does a Tableau license cost per year?
The cost of a Tableau license per year varies depending on the license type and deployment option. For the increasingly popular, hosted solution of Tableau Cloud, Creator licenses cost $840 per user per year, Explorer licenses cost $504 per user per year, and Viewer licenses cost $180 per user per year. If you have an embedded analytics use case, reach out to either Tableau sales or DataDrive to explore alternative options.
Why is Tableau so expensive?
Tableau is often considered expensive due to its bundled features and capabilities catering to the entire data analysis needs. The value it brings to organizations regarding improved decision-making, increased efficiency, and better insights may justify the investment because a single Creator license can run sophisticated analyses. While Tableau pricing may seem expensive, each license type - particularly a Creator license - includes a healthy array of products, functionality, and access that should be considered when comparing directly against other software vendors.
Can I get Tableau for free?
Tableau Public is a free version of Tableau designed for users who want to share their data visualizations and dashboards publicly. Tableau also offers free licenses to students and discounted licenses for academic institutions through their academic programs.
What is a Tableau Creator license?
A Tableau Creator license is designed for power users who need comprehensive capabilities to create, publish, and manage content within Tableau. This license type provides access to Tableau Desktop, Tableau Prep Builder, and the ability to publish and manage content on either Tableau Server or Tableau Cloud.
What comes with a Tableau Creator license?
Tableau Creator licenses include Tableau Desktop, Tableau Prep Builder, data source and workbook publishing to Tableau Server/Cloud, data source and dashboard creation, full data source connectivity, and advanced analytics features.
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