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 private network data and Tableau Online.

In most cases, you will own the set up and management of several clients, or pools of clients, in your organization. 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.

Notes: 

  • 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 private network 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 and more

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 2012 or later
  • Java 11
  • 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 or virtual connections with live connections to private network 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

Notes: 

  • A Creator or Explorer (can publish) role is required to publish data sources and keep data fresh with Bridge.
  • A Creator or Explorer (can publish) role and the Data Management Add-on is required to publish virtual connections 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 or virtual connections 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), Bridge must be used.

Private network 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 private network data is made, the connection information is saved with the Tableau data source or virtual connection. Bridge uses that connection information to facilitate connectivity between the private network data and Tableau Online.

Data connections

Bridge supports data sources or virtual connections that use connections between private network data and Tableau Online. A data source or virtual connection can use one of two connection types:

  • Live (also known as live query): 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 that uses that data source) or virtual connection 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 Online refresh (formerly called Recommend) or Bridge (legacy) schedules, to capture any changes to the underlying data. These snapshots are then pushed to the data source (or workbook that uses that data source) or virtual connection 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 or virtual connection is connected to. Bridge supports 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 or virtual connections up to date using live queries and refresh schedules.

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

  • Online schedules allow content owners to manage Bridge data sources directly from Tableau Online.

    Beginning with Bridge 2021.4.1 (coming soon), file-based data sources can be refreshing using Online schedules.

  • 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 she is already authenticated or signed into using his or her own Tableau Online credentials.

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 and Bridge (legacy) schedules for keeping private network data fresh.

  Online Schedule Bridge (Legacy) Schedule
Supported data types

Relational data

File data (coming in version 2021.4.3)

Private cloud data

Relational data

File data

Content management

Data source owner

Virtual connection 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 schedules Bridge-specific schedule that can be configured to refresh data sources as frequently as 15 and 30 minutes
Pooling support Live queries

Scheduled refreshes (for data sources or virtual connections 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 or virtual connection connects to often requires authentication. If authentication is required, the publisher or owner can configure how the database credentials are obtained.

For data sources

The authentication configuration options for data sources 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).

For virtual connections

Database credentials are stored with a virtual connection's connection and used by anyone who accesses the virtual connection.

Content management

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

Note: Regarding data sources, 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.

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 schedules that your Bridge deployment needs to support.

Centralized management

A centralized management model supports pooling of clients and is optimized for keeping data, in multiple private networks, fresh. Because of pooling, live queries and refresh jobs happen in parallel across available clients.

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 content 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 an option if Bridge facilitates connectivity for data sources that use Bridge (legacy) schedules. With this model, in addition to the benefits of the centralized management model, “named” or designated clients must be managed separately.

With this model, 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.

Note: Bridge (legacy) schedules do not support refreshes for virtual connections.

Using this model means:

  • When scheduling refreshes, data sources 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 . 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 or virtual connections that use extract connections refreshed with Online schedules, are distributed and load balanced across available clients in a 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

Scheduling capacity

Because Bridge clients can easily be connected and disconnected, you can leverage scripts to schedule Bridge capacity (i.e., the number of running client machines) in advance of anticipated data freshness workloads.

For example, if your Bridge clients run on virtual machines on AWS, the following AWS resources can help you get started with scheduling: 

Timeout limits

Live queries have a timeout limit of 15 minutes. This limit is not configurable. Refreshes have a default timeout limit of 24 hours and is configurable by client. For more information, see Configure a timeout limit for refreshes.

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 support data sources that use Bridge (legacy) schedules, 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 private network data, publishing data sources or virtual connections to Tableau Online, and keep data fresh.

Existing Bridge deployment

Deploying Bridge 2021.4 (or later)

As with previous releases, the enterprise improvements in this release are designed to complement your existing Bridge deployment. As with other deployments, we recommend the following steps below.

Step 1: Add new 2021.4 (or later) clients first

The latest updates to Bridge include more flexibility and control over Bridge pools, Online schedules support for file-based data sources (coming in version 2021.4.3), and private network data freshness support for virtual connections. For more information about these changes, see the following in the What’s New in Tableau Online:

Special notes about the latest release: 

  • Support for Online schedules for file-based data sources will come in the version 2021.4.1 release.

  • Sites with pooling configured before Tableau 2021.4 have clients assigned to the Default Pool by default. The default pool's domain can’t be configured to access a specific private network. To reduced the scope of access of this pool, consider recreating the pool and mapping it to specific domains. For more information, see Step 2: Configure a pool.

  • Because Bridge pools are mapped to and refresh data from specific domains, we strongly recommend that extract data sources that contain connections to multiple domains be updated in one of the following ways:

    • Consolidate underlying data locations so that the connections are in the same domain
    • Change the connection type of each connection to use liver query
    • Convert each connection to a data source
  • When using 1) Tableau Desktop on a Mac, 2) publishing a file-based data source from a Windows network file share, and then 3) configuring an Online schedule, the refreshes will fail. If this file-based data source is business critical resource for your organization, consider configuring a Bridge (legacy) schedule instead. For more information, see Set up a Bridge (legacy) schedule.

  • Existing data sources, including all file-based data sources, that are already configured with Bridge (legacy) schedules and associated with specific clients will continue to run as expected. Important: Support for Bridge (legacy) schedules will be removed in a future release. To ensure a smooth transition, we recommend you use Online refresh schedules.

  • New live queries and extract data sources that use the Online schedules will default to using 2021.4 (or later) clients and new capabilities.
Step 2: Create new pools, map domains to a pool, and assign version 2021.4 clients to pools

Follow the procedures described in Step 2: Configure a pool, Step 3: Specify a domain for a pool, and Step 4: Add clients to a pool.

Step 3: Request data source owners to convert Bridge (legacy) schedules

After Bridge 2021.4 (or later) clients have been added to and running successfully in your network, ask data source owners to convert their Bridge (legacy) schedules to use Online schedules. For more information, see Migrate from Bridge (legacy) to Online 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 Bridge (legacy) to Online schedules will immediately delete the existing refresh schedules.

Step 4: Upgrade existing clients to Bridge 2021.4

Upgrade all existing clients to Bridge 2021.4 (or later). For more information, see Upgrade Bridge.

Step 5: 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 Step 4: Add clients to a pool.

(Archived) Deploying Bridge 2020.2-2021.3

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 2020.2-2021.3 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 2020.2-2021.3 clients to your environment. For more information, see What’s New in Tableau Online.

Notes:

  • New extract data sources that use the Online schedules will default to using 2020.2-2021.3 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 2020.2-2021.3 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 schedules. This applies to data sources that connect to relational data only. For more information, see Migrate from Bridge (legacy) to Online 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 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)) schedule and the client that it’s linked to.

Step 3: Upgrade existing clients to Bridge 2020.2-2021.3

Upgrade all existing clients to Bridge 2020.2-2021.3. 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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