Plan Your Bridge Deployment

As a site admin, if you're setting up Tableau Bridge for the first time or upgrading, there are a set of recommendations, best practices, and planning tasks to follow to optimize Bridge for your organization.

For an general overview of Bridge, see Use Bridge to Keep Data Fresh.

Before deploying Bridge

Before you deploy Bridge, review the following information to help you, as the site admin, understand the different components of Bridge, how these components work together, and how they impact your Bridge deployment.

Bridge software

Bridge is stand-alone software, provided at no additional cost, to use in conjunction with Tableau Online. Bridge is a thin client that you install behind a firewall to enable connectivity between on-premises data and Tableau Online.

In most cases, you will own the set up and management of several clients, or a pool of clients, in your organization. However, there is one notable exception to client pool. For more information, see Management models.

Recommended version

To take advantage of the latest security and feature updates, always install the latest version of the Bridge client from the Tableau Bridge Releases(Link opens in a new window) page. For more information, see the Install Bridge topic.

Note: 

  • Clients can only be registered to one site at a time.

  • There is no limit on how many clients that can be registered to a site.

Database drivers

To facilitate connectivity between on-premises data and Tableau Online, Bridge requires drivers to communicate with some databases. Some driver software is installed with the client. Other driver software must be downloaded and installed separately. For more information, see the Install Bridge section in the Install Bridge topic.

Bridge is designed to scale up and scale out. When configuring your Bridge deployment, consider the following:

  • For a smaller pool of clients running on higher specification machines, each client can be scaled up to run more scheduled refresh jobs in parallel.

  • For a larger pool of clients running on lower specification machines, though each client can run fewer refresh jobs in parallel, each client still provides high throughput and capacity for the pool as a whole.

For more information about pooling, see Pooling capacity.

Operating systems

Bridge can be installed on any supported version of the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Only one Bridge client should be installed per operating system.

  • Microsoft Windows 10 or later, 64-bit
  • Microsoft Server 2008 R2 or later
  • Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Opteron processor or later
  • 2 GB memory
  • 1.5 GB minimum free disk space

Additional hardware guidelines

The following table shows additional hardware guidelines for virtual environments running Bridge. These guidelines are based on the number of concurrent refreshes you need each client to be able to run in parallel.

  Refreshes running in parallel per client
<=5 <=10
vCPU 4 8
RAM 16 GB 32 GB
NVMe SSD 150 GB 300 GB

Virtual environments

All of Tableau’s products operate in virtualized environments when they are configured with the proper underlying Windows operating system and minimum hardware requirements.

  • Citrix environments (non-streaming)
  • Microsoft Hyper-V
  • Parallels
  • VMware
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Amazon EC2

Required accounts

There are two types of accounts that your Bridge deployment requires: a Windows service account and a Tableau Online account.

Windows services account

Bridge clients can run in one of two modes: Application or Service. To run the client in Service mode, a Windows services account is required. Service mode allows the client to run continuously without a dedicated logged on user. Service mode is recommended to support 1) data sources with live connections to on-premises data, and 2) load balancing (pooling) of clients. For more information about each mode, see About the Bridge Client.

Important: We recommend that no more than 10 clients run under a single Windows services account.

Tableau Online account

Tableau Online authenticates the client by the user that is signed in to and managing the client. Therefore, a Tableau Online site admin account is necessary to perform certain management tasks, like adding or removing a client from a pool, both on the client and Tableau Online site.

One of the following site roles is required to manage Bridge:

  • Site Administrator Creator
  • Site Administrator Explorer

Note: A Creator or Explorer (can publish) role is required to publish data sources and keep data fresh with Bridge.

Supported connectivity

When planning your deployment, as the site admin, it’s important to know what data your users are connecting to, the type of connections they’re using, and how those connection types affect how data sources can be managed.

Data types

Tableau Online supports connectivity to data hosted on a cloud platform—data typically accessible from the public internet or outside the firewall. For data accessible only from a private network (inside the firewall), that is on-premises data, Bridge must be used.

On-premises data that Bridge supports falls into three general categories:

  • Relational data—examples include Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, Teradata, or even PostgreSQL hosted in Amazon RDS

  • File data—examples include Microsoft Excel, text, and statistical files

  • Some cloud data (accessible only from a private network)—examples include Redshift, Teradata, and Snowflake

After a connection to the on-premises data is made, the connection information is saved with the Tableau data source. Bridge uses that connection information to facilitate connectivity between the on-premises data and Tableau Online.

Data connections

Bridge supports data sources that use connections between on-premises data and Tableau Online. A data source can use one of two connection types:

  • Live: Data sources set up to use live connections enable real-time updates of the data. This means any changes to the underlying data is reflected, via Bridge's live queries, in the data source (or workbook) published to Tableau Online.

  • Extract: Data sources set up to use extract connections enable snapshots of the data. These snapshots can be refreshed on a schedule, via Bridge's Recommend or Bridge (legacy) schedules, to capture any changes to the underlying data. These snapshots are then pushed to the data source (or workbook) published to Tableau Online. For more information about the schedules, see Data freshness.

Support for these connection types depend on the data that the data source is connected to. Bridge supports live connections (also known as live queries) for most relational data. For other data, including file data, only extract connections are supported. For more information, see Bridge exceptions.

Data freshness

Bridge keeps data sources up to date using live queries and refresh schedules.

For data sources set up to use extract connections, Bridge uses refresh schedules. There are two types of schedules that can be created by data source owners to keep data fresh: Online refresh and Bridge (legacy).

  • Online refresh (formerly called Recommended) schedules allow data source owners to manage Bridge data sources directly on Tableau Online.

    Beginning with Bridge 2020.2, all new schedules use Online refresh schedules by default unless the data source connects to file data. To refresh file-based data sources, Bridge (legacy) schedules must be used.

  • Bridge (legacy) schedules require a designated client to perform the refresh. A client can be designated to perform the refresh by the data source owner. The data source owner can only assign a Bridge (legacy) schedule to a client that he or is already authenticated to with his or her Tableau Online credentials.

    Schedules created prior to Bridge 2020.2 will use Bridge (legacy) schedules. The data source owner can migrate Bridge (legacy) schedules to use Online refresh schedules unless the data source connects to file data. File-based data sources must use Bridge (legacy) schedules.

Depending on the schedule type, different refresh concurrency is supported. For more information, see Pooling capacity.

Compare schedules

The following table delineates the primary differences between Online refresh and Bridge (legacy) schedules for keeping on-premises data fresh.

  Online Refresh Schedule Bridge (Legacy) Schedule
Supported data types

Relational data

Private cloud data

File data (requires Bridge (legacy) schedule to keep data fresh)

Relational data

Connector plugins (requires Bridge (legacy) schedule to keep data fresh)

Data source management Data source owner Site admin or data source owner (depending on who is designated to own the client management tasks)
Client management Site admin Site admin or data source owner (depending on who is designated to own the data source management tasks)
Scheduling Integrated with Tableau Online refresh schedules Bridge-specific schedule that can be configured to refresh as frequently as 15 and 30 minutes
Pooling support Live queries

Scheduled refreshes (for data sources with extract connections)
Not supported
Refresh concurrency per client 10 1
REST API

Run Extract Refresh Now(Link opens in a new window) option

Update Data Source Now(Link opens in a new window) option

Not supported

Data access and authentication

The underlying data that a data source connects to often requires authentication. If authentication is required, the publisher or owner can configure how the database credentials are obtained. The configuration options are: Prompt user or Embedded password.

If the data source is set to prompt users, database credentials are not stored with the connection. This means, a user who opens the data source (or workbook that uses the data source) must enter his or her own database credentials to access the data. If a data source is set up with the password embedded, database credentials ares saved with the connection and used by anyone who accesses the data source (or workbook that uses the data source). For more information, see Set Credentials for Accessing Your Published Data(Link opens in a new window).

Data source management

In most cases, the site admin owns and manages the Bridge clients. Data source owners manage the data sources themselves for tasks that range from publishing to updating database credentials and refresh schedules.

Note: Bridge can only keep data fresh for published data sources, i.e., data sources published separately from workbooks. Bridge can't keep data fresh in embedded data sources, i.e., in data sources that are embedded in a published workbook.

Exception for file-based data sources

One exception to the primary data source management workflow described above is data sources that connect to file data.

To manage a file-based data source, the owner of the data source must also be the user signed into the client. The owner can therefore either be the publisher or the site admin. How the owner is determined depends on how you want to distribute data source and client management tasks in your organization. For more information, see Mixed management.

Management models

Although there are no constraints on how to set up and manage Bridge in your organization, your Bridge deployment will likely fall into one of two common management models. The management model you use, as the site admin, depends on the type of on-premises data that your Bridge deployment needs to support.

Centralized management

A centralized management model supports pooling of clients and is optimized for keeping relational data fresh. When clients that are configured for pooling (default), live queries and refresh jobs happen in parallel across available clients.

Note: Prior to Bridge 2020.2, only live queries could be pooled. Beginning with Bridge 2020.2, both live queries and scheduled refresh jobs can be pooled.

For example, if you have 20 refreshes and have five clients that are running and available, you can expect each client to be allocated to run four refresh jobs each.

Using this model means:

  • As the site admin, you can set up and take down Bridge clients as needed.

  • For data source owners, this means they can 1) have uninterrupted publishing workflows that detect whether Bridge is needed, 2) edit or update database credentials from Tableau Online directly, and 3) schedule refreshes from Tableau Online directly.

Mixed management

A mixed management model is required if Bridge facilitates connectivity for data sources that connect to both relational and file data, like Excel or text. With this model, in addition to the benefits of the centralized management model, “named” or designated clients must be managed separately to support file data.

For data sources that connect to file data, the owner of the data source and the user authenticated into and managing the client must be the same. Therefore, the owner of the client can be one of two types of users: data source owner or site admin.

  • Data source owner: The data source owner should be the client owner if you want him or her to perform data source management tasks on his or her own. Data source management tasks include updating refresh schedules and updating database credentials that are saved with the client.

  • Site admin owner: You must be the client owner if you want to retain all client management responsibilities. This means, you must assign ownership of the data source to yourself, effectively making you the new data source owner. You are then responsible for all data source management tasks associated with owning data sources that connect to file data.

Using this model means:

  • File-based data sources must be refreshed using Bridge (legacy) schedules.

  • When scheduling refreshes, data sources that connect to file data need to be assigned to a specific client. When scheduling a refresh, the client is only visible to the data source owner if he or she is signed into the client itself under the same Tableau Online account.

  • If the data source owner maintains ownership of his or her data sources, he or she must own the management of the client that refreshes those data sources.

  • If you, as the site admin, want to maintain ownership of the client, you must also own the data sources that are assigned to the specified client.

  • Only one refresh can happen at a time for data sources that connect to file data. If you need refreshes to happen at the same time, consider designating additional “named” clients to support higher throughput.

Pooling capacity

By default, data freshness tasks, live queries and data sources that use extract connections refreshed with Online refresh (formerly called Recommended) schedules, are distributed and load balanced across available clients in the pool.

Data Freshness Task Pooling Support Concurrency Capacity
Live query Yes 16 live queries per client
Extract connection - Online refresh (formerly called Recommended) schedule Yes 10 refreshes per client (can be configured)
Extract connection - Bridge (legacy) schedule No  1 refresh per client

Bridge exceptions

There are some exceptions that you and your users should be aware of when using Bridge. The following list summarizes some of those exceptions.

Deploy Bridge

The steps to install and set up Bridge are simple. However, there are a few additional things you must do before you proceed with your deployment.

New Bridge deployment

Centralized management

To deploy Bridge using the centralized management model, do the following:

  1. For each machine, log on using your Windows services account, and install the latest client.

  2. After installation, sign in to the client using your Tableau Online site admin credentials to ensure that the client is running under Service mode (on by default).

  3. Open a browser, sign in to Tableau Online using your site admin credentials and go to the Bridge settings page to ensure:

    1. Installed clients are properly linked to the site.

    2. Clients are part of the client pool (on by default for clients running Bridge 2020.2 and later).

  4. Monitor the Bridge live queries using Bridge Connected Data Sources admin view, and refresh jobs from the Jobs page on Tableau Online.

Mixed management

To deploy Bridge using the mixed management model, do the following:

  1. For each machine, log on using your Windows services account, and install the latest client.
  2. After installation, sign in to the client using your Tableau Online site admin credentials to ensure that the client is running under Service mode (on by default).

  3. Open a browser, sign in to Tableau Online using your site admin credentials and go to the Bridge settings page to ensure:

    1. Installed clients are properly registered to the site.
    2. Clients are part of the client pool (on by default for clients running Bridge 2020.2 and later).

  4. To enable support for file data, do one of the following:

    • If the publisher will own and manage their own data sources, ensure that the data source owner installs the latest client on their machine before any data source publishing takes place.
    • If you will own and manage both the data sources and clients associated with those data sources:

      1. Set up another machine and client to designate for refreshing data sources.

      2. Sign in to that client using your Tableau Online site admin credentials.

      3. Open a browser, sign into Tableau Online using your site admin credentials and go to the Bridge settings page to ensure:

        1. Installed clients are properly recognized and registered to the site.

        2. Clients are not part of the pool.

      4. Change ownership of the published data sources that need to be refreshed with your Bridge client to yourself.

      5. After you change ownership of the data sources, change the client associated with the refresh.

      6. Log on to the machine running the client and open the client.

      7. For each new data source assigned to your client, enter the database credentials that the client needs to connect and refresh the data source.

  5. Monitor the Bridge live queries using Traffic to Bridge Connected Data Sources admin view, and refresh jobs from the Jobs page on Tableau Online.

Next steps

After you have Bridge set up and running in your organization, your users can start connecting to on-premises data, publishing data sources to Tableau Online, and keep data fresh.

Existing Bridge deployment

Deploying Bridge 2020.2 (or later)

The latest updates to Bridge include enterprise-specific improvements to provide better redundancy in refresh scenarios and help reduce the need for site admins to manage data sources. For more information about the changes, see What’s New in Tableau Online.

Step 1: Add new 2020.2 (or later) clients first

The latest enterprise improvements have been designed to complement your existing Bridge deployment. Therefore, Tableau recommends that before you upgrade your existing clients, first add new 2020.2 (or later) clients to your environment. For more information, see What’s New in Tableau Online.

Notes:

  • New extract data sources that use the Online refresh schedules will default to using 2020.2 (or later) clients and new capabilities.

  • Existing data sources that are already configured on a schedule (Bridge (legacy)) and associated with specific clients will continue to run as expected.

  • New clients can refresh 10 data sources in parallel by default but can be configured to refresh up to 100 in the TabBridgeClientConfiguration.txt file. For more information, see Change the Bridge Client Settings.

  • We recommend that no more than 10 clients run under the same Windows services account.

Step 2: Request data source owners to convert refresh schedules

After 2020.2 (or later) clients have been added to and running successfully in your network, ask data source owners to convert their current refresh schedules (Bridge (legacy)) to use Online refresh schedules. This applies to data sources that connect to relational data only. For more information, see Migrate from Bridge (legacy) to Online refresh schedules.

Important:

  • We recommend that data source owners begin the process by converting refresh schedules for extract data sources that are least critical to daily business. This is because converting existing refresh schedules (Bridge (legacy)) to Online refresh schedules will immediately delete the existing refresh schedules.

  • Schedules for extract data sources that connect to file data cannot be converted to use integrated refresh schedules. Instead those data sources will continue to use the (Bridge (legacy)) refresh schedule and the client that it’s linked to.

Step 3: Upgrade existing clients to Bridge 2020.2 (or later)

Upgrade all existing clients to Bridge 2020.2 (or later). For more information, see Install Bridge.

Step 4: Add existing clients to a pool

After upgrade, ensure upgraded clients are running as a Window service and then add those clients to the pool. For more information, see Configure and Manage the Bridge Client Pool.

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