Debbie King - Apr 28, 2014

Tableau Online for Associations?

What is Tableau Online?  It’s simply a cloud hosted version of Tableau Server.  Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages to help you determine if Tableau Online is right for your association.


  • No server maintenance – the Tableau team takes care of all the maintenance for the server and software upgrades
  • Quick start up – with no software to install or configure, you can get started immediately by adding your data and creating visualizations
  • Data sources – you can publish any data or data source to Tableau Online which creates a central repository of data for all your visualizations. Additionally, any data source Tableau supports is available for you to use (i.e. Google Analytics, Excel, SQL Server, Hive)
  • Scaling – it is easy to start small and grow both the number of users as well as the quantity of data you publish (up to the limit)


  • Tableau Desktop – requires at least one license of Tableau Desktop for creating visualizations and it is also used as a bridge to refresh data (manually)
  • Authentication – users are created in Tableau Online independent of any network credentials for your association so there is one more password to remember
  • Data sources – extra effort is involved to automate data refreshes if you have a separate data mart to maintain (i.e. SQL Server).  You may also require an extra desktop license depending on your overall architecture and automated refresh schedule.
  • Storage – currently limited to 100GB


  • Pricing - Pricing is somewhat variable and is not listed online.  Keep in mind that fees for Tableau Online do not include essential services, such as determining the right questions to ask of your data, data cleansing, training, creating dashboards, etc.
  • Security –  Tableau has taken every precaution to make sure your data is safe because they know how important security and privacy are.  Check out their whitepaper “Tableau Online Security in the Cloud” for more information.  The graphic below illustrates all the security angles addressed when they built Tableau Online.

association data security

As former association professionals, DSK understands the unique data requirements and goals of nonprofit organizations. We encourage our clients to explore the power and flexibility of data analytics with Tableau. Tableau Online allows you to get started with data analytics without making a large capital investment in software.


Written by Debbie King