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Azure SQL DB and Tableau: The Perfect Duo

By: Netreo
July 23, 2017

For the past few years, the teams at Tableau Engineering and Microsoft have been working closely. They intend to provide the customers with a rich and interactive user experience. This article will mainly focus on optimizing the connectivity between the Tableau and Azure SQL. The learnings which have been extracted from the joint work experience are as follows.

Out of the Box Experience Always Matters:

While working together on several projects, the very first thing which was learned was that the user really likes the simpler approach. Since the SQL Server 2016 is compatible with the same drivers and utilities which are used by the Azure SQL DB, the learning curve was pretty much lenient. When the teams introduced the Tableau Desktop UI, there is only one SQL Server Connector which is used for Azure SQL DB, SQL Server 2016, Azure SQL Data Warehouse and the same one for running any other utility on the public Azure.

Tableau and Azure

Liver Querying Capability of Tableau Gives Optimal Performance:

Unlike the extract based connectivity, the Query Mode of the latest Tableau Desktop UI enables the system to dead lift the burden of query which normally occurs in Azure SQL DB. There is not a single part of data which is lost in the process because the user is being fed with the latest information continuously. This is what implores the developers to perform some performance testing with respect to sizing. According to the experience of both teams, the latency of Azure SQL DB and its throughput can easily come at par with the most stringent requirement of Tableau.

Best Practices of Tableau:

Following are some of the best practices of Tableau UI Desktop.

  • Isolated Date Calculations:

Tableau performs only one-time computation and when the data is meant to be used again, only its index is utilized.

  • Usage of Boolean Fields:

Instead of using 0 and 1 as the indicators for marking true or false, use Boolean fields.

  • Avoid Changing Cases and Use Aliases:

If you already know the cases of the values, avoid using upper or lower case while making comparisons. Where it is possible to use aliases, do use them systematically. Aliases are not meant to be sent to databases so these are faster. Also, replace the conditional keywords like IF/ELSE with CASE statements.

Final Word:

If you are new to Tableau, no need to worry about as it is available with a trial license key as well. You can enjoy the privilege of experiencing the setup of a more complex environment, you can buy standard or premium versions as well.

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