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Tableau Server and Google Cloud Platform–Installation Walkthrough


Product(s): Tableau Server
Version(s): 9.3
Last Modified Date: 16 Sep 2016

This walkthrough describes basic installation steps to run Tableau Server on Google Cloud Platform (GCP). We assume readers have some familiarity with both Tableau Server and GCP, but we provide links throughout this walkthrough for additional information.

For those completely new to both Tableau Server and GCP, we start with a short introduction.

Tableau Server

Tableau Server is business intelligence software that allows you to publish data visualizations created in Tableau Desktop to a common and secure place on the network. The following articles provide more information:

Google Cloud Platform

Google Cloud Platform is a set of modular cloud-based services that allow you to create anything from simple websites to complex applications. This walkthrough uses the GCP Compute Engine service to demonstrate a Tableau Server deployment.

Prerequisites

Working with Tableau Server on the Google Cloud Platform requires the following:

  • A Google account. If you don't already have one, sign up for a new account.

  • The Tableau Server installer. For information, see the Tableau Server Trial Download page.

  • A Tableau Server license. You'll need a product key, or you can install the trial download.

  • Microsoft Remote Desktop (RDP) installed on your computer. You use Remote Desktop to sign in to the VM that is hosting Tableau Server. Remote Desktop is installed on Windows. If you use a Mac, you can install Remote Desktop as a client from the Microsoft Download Center.

Overview

In this walkthrough, you'll perform these steps:

  1. Configure a GCP Compute Engine instance.

  2. Connect to your GCP instance.

  3. Install Tableau Server.

  4. Access Tableau Server from a remote browser.

  5. Publish to Tableau Server.

  6. Manage your Tableau license when shutting down your GCP instance.

Configure a GCP Compute Engine Instance

  1. Sign in to your Google account. If you don't already have one, sign up for a new account.

  2. Go to the Google Cloud Platform Console.

  3. Create a new project.

    Follow the prompts to set up billing. If you are new to Google Cloud Platform, you have free trial credit to pay for your instances.

    Note: The machine type we recommend during this walkthrough incurs charges that go beyond the free credit limits.

  4. From the dashboard, click the menu (Menu icon for the Compute Instance console.) and then click Compute Engine to go to the Compute Engine console.

  5. Click Create instance.

    Home page for the GCP console.

  6. On the Create an instance page, specify the instance properties. (See the notes following this list of settings for important information about which settings you specify.)

    • Name. Use a descriptive name.

    • Zone. You normally set this to a zone closest to your data source and users. For this walkthrough, choose the zone closest to you.

    • Machine type. Select a type that is sufficient to run Tableau Server. For now, this includes any type that includes 8 vCPUs or more and that has a minimum of 30 GB memory. See the notes below for more information.

    • Boot disk. Set this to Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter Edition with 128 GB SSD persistent disk. See the notes below for more information.

    • Identity and API access. Leave this at its default setting.

    • Firewall. Select both options to allow both HTTP and HTTPS traffic.

    Important! Please note the following about these settings:

    • The settings that we recommend in this procedure result in a billable instance that will incur the cost displayed on your console.

    • Tableau Server requires four hardware cores to install, but we recommend at least eight. The GCP console describes VM instances in vCPU count, otherwise known as hardware threads. The minimum vCPU configuration is eight, and we recommend sixteen.

    • It's important to select an image that meets the hardware guidelines for Tableau Server (a minimum of eight hardware cores and 32 GB RAM). However, you must balance the hardware capabilities of the image that you select against the cost—the more capable a VM is, the more it costs.

  7. When you've finished the settings, review the cost, and then click Create.

    GCP Compute Instance configuration summary with 'Create Instance' button

    GCP starts the Windows instance, which requires a few minutes.

Connect to your GCP instance

  1. In the Compute Engine console, click VM instances.

  2. Under the utilization graph, select your instance.

  3. At the top of the page, click Create or reset Windows password.

  4. Specify a username (or leave the default one). Make sure you record the username.

    RDP dialog box for setting a new password for the instance

  5. Click Set to generate a password. It might take several seconds before the New Windows password dialog box appears.

  6. Save the username and password. You'll need these later to connect to your instance.

    Important: This is your only chance to copy the password.

  7. At the top of the VM instances page, click the RDP menu and select Download the RDP file. Save the .rdp file to your computer.

    RDP dialog box for downloading a generated password

  8. Connect to your GCP instance using the .rdp file you saved. Provide the username and password that were generated for your GCP instance. (If you're already signed into a Windows network, such as your organization's network, choose Other User and enter your credentials in those boxes.)

    You will see one or more messages telling you that the remote connection can't be identified. This is normal.

    Note: The RDP file references the instance by using an external IP address. By default, this is an ephemeral IP address, which might be renewed when you stop or restart the server. In that case, you'll need to get a new copy of the RDP file. For longer-term use, GCP provides static IP addresses at additional cost.

    Remote Desktop signs you in to the GCP instance.

Install Tableau Server

Installing Tableau Server on a GCP Compute Engine instance is similar to installing it on a physical server.

  1. While signed in to the GCP instance, download a copy of the Tableau Server installer from the following location:

    http://www.tableau.com/products/server/download

  2. Download the 64-bit version of Tableau Server. Note that the file is large (about 1 GB) and takes some time to download.

  3. Double-click the installer. For more information, see the installation notes that follow this procedure.

  4. Create your first Tableau Server administrator user on the server home page. A link to the server on localhost is put on the desktop by the Tableau Server installation process.

Installation notes

  • You can select local authentication or Active Directory (AD) authentication only during initial installation. AD is only required for multi-worker configurations (not covered here). For more information, see Setting up Active Directory on Google Compute Engine in the GCP documentation.

  • The Run As User account must be a local user account on the server instance.

  • The default enhanced security configuration for Internet Explorer is High for the Internet zone and cannot be changed. Therefore, as you browse to public sites using Internet Explorer, you must add those sites to the list of trusted sites.

  • For more information, see the installation guide in the Tableau documentation.

Access Tableau Server from a remote browser

To navigate to your Tableau Server web console, you need the external IP address of the Compute Engine instance that Tableau Server is running on. This walkthrough uses the IP address assigned by GCP, so the URL to get to your Tableau Server instance will look like the following:

http://<your-server-external-IP-address>/#/projects

Later you might want to review the Google docs on setting up your host name to map your server IP address.

  1. From your computer (not the server instance) login to the VM instances console.

  2. Select the instance that is hosting your Tableau Server installation.

  3. Under External IP, click the IP address. This attempts to launch the webpage using HTTPS, but the address won't resolve because you haven't configured an SSL connection for Tableau Server yet.

  4. Edit the URL to change the protocol to http (remove the s from https) and then try again.

    Note: As noted earlier, the external IP is an ephemeral address. It is released when you stop the instance and a new external IP is assigned on restart. If you restart your instance, you may need to retrieve the new external IP address to access the server using your browser. GCP provides persistent static IP addresses.

    This time the URL resolves correctly and you reach the sign-in page for your instance of Tableau Server.

    Tableau Server admin sign in page

  5. Sign in using the credentials for the administrator user that you created at the end of the installation process. When you've signed in, you see the Projects page in Tableau Server.

    Tableau Server Projects page

Publish to Tableau Server

After you set up Tableau Server on a GCP instance, users in your organization can publish workbooks and data sources to the server. The process works the same way that it does if Tableau Server is installed on premises, except that users must sign in to the server that's running on the GCP instance.

Before you allow users to publish, make sure that each user has been created with the Publisher site role in Tableau Server and that the users have Publisher permissions. For more information, see Add Users to the Server in the Tableau Server documentation.

To publish workbooks and data sources to Tableau Server, users must sign in to the server by using the cloud server IP address using credentials they've been assigned.

For more information, see Publish a Workbook in the Tableau documentation.

Manage your Tableau license

You can stop an instance with persistent SSD disk using the GCP Compute Engine console. A stopped GCP Compute Engine instance does not incur charges, but attached resources still incur charges.

Alternatively, you can shut down and delete the instance. This deallocates all the resources being used by the instance, including external storage. You might do this if you don't need to use the instance any more, or if you want to migrate to a different instance type or size. In this case, you must deactivate your Tableau Server license before you shut down the instance.

Before you delete an instance, do the following:

  1. Use RDP to sign in to the GCP instance.

  2. Create a backup of Tableau Server, and then copy the .tsbak file to another location that will continue to be accessible after the instance is no longer available. For more information, see Back Up the Tableau Data in the Tableau Server documentation.

  3. Run the Manage Product Keys utility (Start > All Programs > Tableau Server version > Manage Product Keys).

  4. Select the product key for the instance, and then click Deactivate.

    Tableau Server Manage Product Keys dialog box

  5. Shut down and delete the instance.

Troubleshooting

If you're having trouble with Tableau Server on the instance or with getting access to the server after installation, review these troubleshooting tips.

Can't connect to the instance using RDP

  • Make sure you're using the right credentials.

  • Choose the Other User option and enter your credentials there.

  • Make sure that you're using a username that is valid on the GCP instance. For instance, if you created the instance with an administrator account of myuser, enter .\myuser as the username in the RDP dialog box.

Can't access the server from a remote browser

  • Sign in to the instance and make sure that the server is running.

  • In the instance, open a browser and access the server locally (for example, using http://localhost or http://localhost:port, where port is the port number that the server was configured to listen on).

  • In the GCP Compute Engine console, make sure that you've configured an endpoint to allow HTTP traffic to the instance.

    Note: You cannot use the Windows ping utility to test connectivity to the instance. The utility will always report a timeout when used from the public Internet.

"Tableau Server is unlicensed" error

This error can occur if you've shut down instances without first deactivating the license. Contact Tableau Support.

Other issues

For issues with using or installing Tableau Server, contact Tableau Support.

For issues with GCP, see the Compute Engine Troubleshooting documentation.

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