Four days to create a publicly available data dashboard

Let’s take a look at the architecture

The architecture underpins everything else, and one of the benefits of using Tableau Server for this project was that it’s greenfield which means we were able to deliver it right first time.

  • We needed this project to be secure by design, so we used an AWS Web Application Firewall (AWS WAF) to protect against attacks.
  • Tableau recommend using an elastic load balancer in front of your server nodes, which is simple to set up in AWS.
  • We also set up some simple monitoring to avoid redirecting to nodes that are down.
  • We have three EC2 instances: the Tableau Primary Server and two additional nodes.
  • We used Amazon S3 to source the existing data for our dashboards and Amazon Athena to create a database that Tableau can use.
  • We also used Amazon S3 to store Tableau backups and to log file snapshots, both of which can be large.

Things we learnt along the way

We’ll caveat this by saying this: the advice offered here is anecdotal and based on our experience.

What level of demand are you expecting?

A single 8-core installation will support around 50 concurrent users with a moderately complex dashboard and in-memory data source. I would suggest running three 8-core servers for any serious production or public facing workloads.

Tableau Server Licensing

The server licence covers the total number of cores in your installation. For example, if you are deploying three 8-core servers as a cluster, you’ll need a 24-core licence. The simplest licence, and the one offered on new installations, is priced per core.

Configuration requires a restart

A whole cluster needs to be restarted to make any server level configuration changes. This can take about 10 minutes for simple changes and longer for changes to the cluster topology. Any down time is less than ideal so this is why we really recommend planning your architecture thoroughly in advance.

Your data source

Tableau supports many different data sources depending on what kind of data you’re sourcing — whether that’s extracts, daily snapshots, real time feeds, or traditional SQL databases. You could even reuse your existing legacy database. However, it’s important to consider how Tableau will connect to any on-premise or heavily protected databases and how your data science team may publish data to AWS in your account.

Final thoughts

Running Tableau on AWS provided us with the speed we needed for a very urgent project. We were able to produce a data dashboard using vast datasets that are now accessible to thousands of daily users.

We can help you

If you’re interested in using Amazon Web Services or Tableau or how data architecture can help you deliver it right, we’ll be happy to help. Start a conversation.



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