Choosing the right business intelligence (BI) platform can be tricky, and at 5000fish (the company behind DashboardFox), we want to help you make the right decision. Yes, DashboardFox is a BI platform, but we know it might not be the perfect fit for everyone. If that’s the case, there are a few other BI products we feel good about recommending, and one of those is Tableau.
If you’re in the business intelligence (BI) field, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Tableau, as it’s one of the better-known brands of BI software. The company was founded in 2002 and has been categorized as a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms for eight consecutive years.
Tableau went public in 2013 but was struggling with profitability when it was acquired by CRM giant Salesforce for $15.7 billion. This has had a tremendous impact on Tableau’s ability to compete in the space. A robust option with many customization options, the software is known for its ease of use, allowing users to dive right in and drill into some top-level data.
One of the downsides of Tableau, however, is its cost. Although it is one of the few BI tools that actually lists its pricing on its website, the different models can be a bit confusing, and not immediately lead to a clear understanding of its price, so we want to dig a little deeper into that.
While Tableau does have a free public cloud offering, for the purpose of this article we are focusing on their paid product, Tableau for Teams and Organizations, also known as Tableau Server.
TL;DR; The minimum cost to start with a self-hosted Tableau Server is $17,340 per year with the hosted option costing more. With add-ons, the price goes to $28,152 per year.
In 2017, Tableau made a major change in its pricing models, announcing all of its software would be available as a subscription rather than a single license plus a service fee – a not-uncommon move for software at the time (here at DashboardFox we’re taking it back old-school, we provide no subscription, one-time fee pricing).
While companies claimed it provided flexibility and faster access to updates, it was often a move to disguise pricing that, when viewed on a single-license basis, created sticker shock. However, although a subscription model provides the company with the ability to advertise their pricing in more easily digestible chunks, it would be wise to do a little math.
All Tableau’s prices are listed on a monthly basis on their website, but those prices are based on a sum that is billed annually. For the purposes of this comparison, we’ll convert all costs to an annual equivalent.
Type of hosting. Tableau takes a “cafeteria-style” approach to pricing, allowing users to choose options. Tableau offers both a self-hosted/public cloud option for Tableau Server or a fully hosted option for deploying reports on Tableau Online. The fully hosted option is more expensive than the self-hosted/public cloud option.
User roles. The number of users required also determines the price. The types of users are Creator, Explorer, and Viewer, and each role has different pricing. We will detail those user types later in this article.
Add-ons. Even with its move to subscription pricing, add-on pricing remains for a few items that can extend the functionality of server and user roles. These are the Tableau Data Management, Server Management add-ons, and Resource Blocks.
While these cafeteria-style models seem price friendly, as users are selecting only what they need, we find it ultimately costs more over time as users tend to overestimate needs and purchase more licenses than necessary.
(The following prices are accurate as of July 2020)
As noted earlier, there are three types of users available in this option:
Creators. These are anyone in the organization who connects to the data sources and uses them to create and distribute reports. Creators are power users performing ad hoc analysis.
The per-user cost for Creators is $840 each per year
Explorers. These users are probing the data, but not building and distributing the reports. Tableau’s description of these users is, “They may not have analyst in their title but they’re comfortable with data … [they] need to probe deeper into the data to find answers to their own questions. These answers are often outside the confines of pre-built reports.”
The per-user cost for Explorers is $420 each per year – with a minimum of 5 to start with, meaning the minimum cost for this level is $2,100 per year.
Viewers. As the name implies, these users view the data to make decisions. They are not creating or distributing reports.
The per-user cost for Viewers is $144 each per year. However, there is a minimum of 100 to start with, so the minimum cost for this level is $14,400.
There are also a couple of add-ons with additional costs:
Data Management Add-On. Described as enhancing data preparation and governance, it adds $66 per year and is required for all Creator, Explorer, and Viewer licenses. Above we determined there was a minimum of 5 explorer, 100 viewers, and 1 creator, so that would make this add-on a minimum of $6,996 annually.
Server Management Add-On. This enhances manageability, scalability, and security in the Tableau Server deployment. It’s applied in the same way as the Data Management Add-On, for all users at a cost of $36 each per year. So using the minimum number of users, this add-on would add an additional $3,816 each year.
Costs increase a bit more if using the Tableau Online version.
The Explorer role increases from $420 to $504 per year, and the Viewer role increases from $144 to $180 per year. With Tableau Online there is also a new add-on called Resources Blocks, which will cost $3,000 per year.
As we mentioned in the intro, DashboardFox is an alternative to Tableau. To see a more granular comparison of Tableau and DashboardFox please visit this page.
But we don’t actually like to say we’re competitors with Tableau (because that would really be a David vs Goliath type competition, David did win, however). There is a very good use case for an organization to use both Tableau and DashboardFox, the two products can be complimentary.
Tableau is wonderful for technical data analysts and works great in environments where you have a data analytics team that does analysis, prepares results, and then shares it with a group of end-users.
DashboardFox is a self-service BI tool and is great when you want to open up data to non-technical users and you want a very affordable way to share data with a large audience.
So in environments that can afford Tableau, but doesn’t want to get into buying viewer licenses for 100’s of staff, DashboardFox can be that interactive dashboard and self-service reporting front-end.
What we see most often are businesses that get excited about business intelligence and the features of Tableau but get sticker shock when they look to acquire it. DashboardFox really comes in handy for organizations that don’t want to spend $17,000 a year to get started.
You can see our transparent pricing model here, but the gist, you pay one time. It’s not a subscription. Once you pay, you own it, and we give you 1 year of Priority Support and Upgrade Protection (meaning you get all our updates for 1 year after purchase). Then if you want to continue to receive our product updates, you have the option to renew maintenance at a deeply discounted rate compared to what you paid. You can also-pre-pay maintenance when you originally purchase at a super-duper discounted rate.
So the cost is $1500 one-time, per user, but the cool thing is, that user license is a concurrent session. It means you can grant access to as many people as you like and they can all log in, but only 1 at a time. So for a smaller team, if you expect 3 people to need access simultaneously, $4500 one-time provides you 3 concurrent user licenses.
We put a nice BI Savings Calculator together where you can quickly see how the savings add up here.
There’s one more useful detail about our pricing. With each concurrent user you purchase, we throw in 5 Public View Document licenses. These are super handy and can actually greatly reduce the number of concurrent sessions you think you may need. Read about the use of these licenses here.
If you have a really big environment, you may have been doing some mental math and thinking, I’m going to have 200-500 people logged in at the same time, DashboardFox pricing makes Tableau look cheap.
It’s true, concurrent user pricing doesn’t make sense in an enterprise environment with 1000s of users and large numbers logged in simultaneously. DashboardFox is geared more to the small to mid-sized organizations.
But it’s big brother, Yurbi, that’s the product for the Enterprise use case.
Yurbi has everything that DashboardFox has but more. In-memory dashboard caching, we refer to it as FastCache. Support for Microsoft SQL as a backend database choice. And while Yurbi does have an annual subscription-based pricing model, the flat based pricing model makes it a no-brainer for a large organization like yours.
Regardless of your decision, one thing we can promise you, no high pressured sales calls here.
We’re a small bootstrapped company and everyone on the team is a technical person, who can talk in detail about your requirements and how we can help.
If you are ready to discuss your requirements, see a demo, download a trial, or simply learn more about DashboardFox, please contact us here.