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Tableau platform update adds governance, security tools

With many organizations enabling more employees to work with data, Tableau 2021.4 includes three new features aimed at improving data governance and increasing data security.

Enhanced data governance and security capabilities highlight the latest Tableau analytics platform update.

Tableau, founded in 2003 and based in Seattle, unveiled version 2021.4 of its platform on Dec. 10, and included are centralized row-level security, virtual connections in Tableau Data Management and Connected Apps.

Security measures

As more people work with data, it's imperative for organizations to limit how their data can be accessed and used. Data governance measures help ensure organizations don't run afoul of regulatory guidelines, and at the same time put up security guardrails that can inspire confidence in self-service users.

Centralized row-level security enables data stewards to easily set parameters on who within their organization has access to what data.

Virtual connections, meanwhile, are new content types in Tableau Server and Tableau Online that are used to share access to tables, embed service account credentials, define data policies and enable users to extract data from a central location. Before virtual connections, every data source or workbook that used data from a given database had to store credentials for that database. Because most enterprises use more than one database, it meant users often had to repeat work.

Finally, Connected Apps simplifies authentication for embedded analytics content.

All three of the new governance and security capabilities in the Tableau platform stand to benefit users, according to analysts.

"I'd say the standout is the virtual connections content type," said Doug Henschen, an analyst at Constellation Research. "Tableau has been working hard to address the needs of the largest enterprises, and the virtual connection type ... is all about centralized governance and security management; it's a super useful addition for those managing any large deployment."

A screenshot showing Tableau Connected Apps in action
A sample screenshot shows Tableau Connected Apps, a data governance tool for embedded BI, in action.

Meanwhile, with the growing importance of embedded BI and self-service analytics, Mike Leone, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), noted the significance of centralized row-level security and Connected Apps. According to ESG research, almost 50% of organizations face security challenges working with analytics.

"I love the focus on security," Leone said. "Embedded analytics is a proven way to empower more end users, but organizations mustn't overlook security and governance controls. Centralized security and Connected Apps can enable organizations to overcome embedded analytics security and governance challenges to reliably provide the right people with access to the right data."

He added that the addition of new security measures is particularly relevant for Tableau given its plan to add a series of significant integrations with Slack.

Tableau has been working hard to address the needs of the largest enterprises, and the virtual connection type ... is all about centralized governance and security management; it's a super useful addition for those managing any large deployment.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research

Salesforce, which acquired Tableau in June 2019, completed its acquisition of Slack in July 2021. Since then, a series of tools joining the capabilities of Tableau and Slack have been in the works.

Tableau introduced Einstein Discovery in Slack, Ask Data in Slack, Explain Data in Slack and Notifications in Slack in September during Dreamforce, Salesforce's annual user conference. At the time, however, only Notifications in Slack was made generally available, and each of the other capabilities remains under development.

Francois Ajenstat, Tableau's chief product officer, said during Dreamforce that Einstein Discovery in Slack, Ask Data in Slack and Explain Data in Slack are expected to be ready sometime in 2022.

"Their last announcement [about Slack integrations] didn't cover the security challenges that many organizations face in enabling the broader adoption of BI capabilities in a trusted way," Leone said. "When pairing the last announcement with this one, it's clear Tableau is thinking holistically to enable organizations to ramp up data usage from more individuals in a trusted way."

More capabilities

While not the fully formed Ask Data in Slack, Tableau 2021.4 includes an integration between Slack and Ask Data.

Ask Data is an augmented intelligence tool that enables Tableau users to query data using natural language and receive an automatically generated data visualization in response. The integration will enable users working in Slack to share visualizations generated with Ask Data, and when another user shares a visualization, they will receive a notification in their Tableau for Slack app channel.

In all, the latest Tableau platform update is made up of 23 features. In addition to the governance security measures and ability to access Ask Data visualizations in Slack, these include new prebuilt dashboards for certain data sources and industry-specific use cases, new connectors in Tableau Exchange, new mapping capabilities and improvements to Tableau Mobile.

"I'm a big advocate of embedding analytics, so the announcement that caught my eye [beyond virtual connections] was the Connected Apps feature," Henschen said. "The other additions in this release were incremental, whether it be the shareable Ask Data visualizations in Slack, the new accelerators in the Tableau Exchange or the improvements to ... Tableau Mobile."

Enterprise Strategy Group is a division of TechTarget.

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