Understanding License Models and Product Keys

This topic describes the different licensing models and the product keys associated with them.

A useful visual of how product keys are represented in Tableau Server can be found in tsm licenses list. The Tableau Customer Portal(Link opens in a new window) will also display product key information including type and seat count.

When viewing product keys using tsm licenses list (Tableau Server), or in the Tableau Customer Portal (Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder), note the product specific prefixes.

Product Key Prefix Description
TC Tableau Creator product key, can be used to activate or deactivate Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder.
TD Tableau Desktop product key, can be used to activate or deactivate Tableau Desktop only.
TS Tableau Server product key, can be used to activate or deactivate Tableau Server. Tableau Server product keys can be role-based, core-based, or feature-based.

Term licensing models

Tableau’s term license model is defined by the metric that permits use of Tableau Server.

  • A role-based license metric allows you to deploy Tableau Server on a single computer or on multiple computers in a cluster. Each user that accesses Tableau Server must be licensed and assigned a role. Administrators can add users based on available licenses of each type.

  • A core-based license metric imposes no constraints on the number of user accounts in Tableau Server. Instead, the license specifies the maximum number of computer cores on which you can run Tableau Server. You can install Tableau Server on a single computer or across multiple computers as a multi-node cluster, as long as the total number of cores in all the computers does not exceed the total number that the license allows.

    Not all processes installed with Tableau Server impact the calculation of total number of cores used. A subset of processes is considered "licensed processes." Core licensing is calculated only on computers running licensed processes. If a computer has one or more licensed processes installed on it, the cores on that computer count toward the total cores used. For more information about licensed processes, see Licensed processes.

In the output returned bytsm licenses list, the TYPE field describes the user license metric.

Role-based license model

Tableau offers role-based term licenses that grant a range of capabilities at various price points. Three types of role-based term licenses are available: Viewer, Explorer and Creator.

  • Viewer licenses let users view and interact with workbooks in Tableau Server. Viewer licenses also let users access Tableau Mobile, add comments to workbooks, export visuals in various formats, download workbook summary data, create subscriptions for themselves, and receive data-driven alerts.
  • Explorer licenses are similar to the user-based licenses available in previous Tableau Server releases, and include the capabilities provided with Viewer licenses, and additional capabilities. An Explorer license allows access to workbook authoring capabilities using a web browser, as well as a full set of collaboration features.
  • Creator licenses permit a wide range of capabilities when using Tableau Server, and also grant use of Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder. A Creator license allows all of the capabilities available under the Explorer license, as well as the following capabilities when using Tableau Server:
    • Create and publish new workbooks from a new data source.
    • Edit embedded data sources in the Data pane.
    • Create and publish new data connections.

Note: Tableau Server administrators will always consume the highest role available. If a Creator product key is activated, the Tableau Server Administrator(s) will take this role. If the highest role available on Tableau Server is an Explorer, the Server Administrator will take the Explorer role. If Creator licenses are added to the server, any existing Server Admin accounts using Explorer licenses will automatically convert to use Creator licenses.

TSM administrator accounts do not require licenses.

Product keys are used to activate and add licenses to Tableau Server. Administrators can activate additional product keys to add licenses, capacity, or turn on functionality. The Tableau Server should be restarted after activating any new product key in order for Tableau Server to reflect the new activation. On a new installation, the first product key activated will be used to generate the Tableau Server Administrator role. Please select a Tableau Server Creator product key from the Tableau Customer Portal. A Tableau Server Viewer product key should not be used to install Tableau Server because the Tableau Administrator role requires either a Creator or Explorer product key. Explorer and Viewer product keys can then be activated to add additional licenses. Once the product keys have been activated, administrators can add users and assign them site roles, which automatically consume available licenses.

In the output returned by tsm licenses list, the CREATOR, EXPLORER, VIEWER fields display the number of licenses for each role license type. Each role license type is governed by its own product key. Therefore, if your organization has purchased licenses for all three roles, then you must activate three product keys.

Core-based license model

In a core licensing model, the license defines the number of total computer cores the server can run on, instead of how many users can be added. This means the server can support virtually unlimited users (as Explorers or Viewers; the legacy term for these types of roles was “interactors”). Core-based license also allows a Guest User account, which is not possible with role-based licensing.

However, core licensing does not include Creator seats on the server (those site roles will be greyed out when adding users). An additional license is required to create new content and publish it to Tableau Server. For content publishing in a core-based organization, one of the following must be purchased:

  • At least one role-based Creator license user (which includes Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder), or
  • At least one licensed Tableau Desktop that uses a legacy Tableau Desktop product key, and an Explorer (can publish) site role. This allows the user who has a license for Tableau Desktop to be able to publish to Tableau Server.

In the output returned by tsm licenses list, the TYPE field will display the number of cores that are licensed. Additionally, the GUEST ACCESS field will display true.

Perpetual license model (legacy)

In the past, Tableau sold access to Tableau Server with perpetual licenses. Although these licenses are no longer available, some customers use this licensing arrangement.

In the perpetual license model, customers pay a maintenance subscription that is renewed annually. If maintenance expires, the software continues to work but the customer loses access to technical support and software upgrades.

Perpetual licenses were either sold for a specific number of users, called interactors, or for a specific number of cores:

  • Interactor licensing is a named-user model where customers purchased licenses by the seat, similar to current role-based licensing. However, unlike role-based licensing, where different access roles are priced accordingly, in interactor licensing, licenses were unbound by role. Licensed users could be Server admins, Site admins, Publishers, Interactors, or Viewers. User roles were set by the administrator only as a means to manage access to content and server configuration.

  • Perpetual core licensing has the same model as subscription core licensing, it specifies the number of computer cores the software can be run on and supports unlimited users and a guest account.

    Perpetual licenses are no longer available. However, customers that purchased the legacy perpetual licenses may still purchase annual maintenance.

In the output returned by tsm licenses list, the TYPE filed displays Perpetual. Note also that the MAINT EXP date is also displayed.

Embedded Analytics

Tableau’s Embedded Analytics offering is a limited-use license for Tableau Server that’s made available to customers who wish to embed Server functionality into an external facing solution to provide Tableau content and insights to clients outside of their organization.

For example, consider an organization that runs a service where they analyze consumer data and generate reports on behavioral patterns regarding different consumer demographics. In this scenario, Tableau Server acts in support of a specific proprietary application titled ‘Demographics Analyzer’ and connects with exported TXT files and a SQL database. The organization makes visualizations available to its clients in a secure portal, where clients log in to manage their account and view the results. End users are uniquely identified by the account they use to access the portal; this determines the number of User-Based Embedded Analytics Server licenses.

The Embedded Analytics license is not displayed in the output returned by tsm licenses list. To verify the license contact Customer Success(Link opens in a new window).

Feature licenses

Feature licenses are sold differently than other licenses. Features with independent licenses must be licensed for every user (or all cores) in the deployment. A deployment includes a licensed production Tableau Server installation and licensed non-production Tableau Server installations that support the production installation.

In the context of licensing, the availability of these features to the user base are “all or none.” The features are licensed annually and must expire at the same time as subscription licenses or perpetual maintenance terms:

  • Data Management Add-on
  • Tableau Server Management Add-on
  • Login-based License Management

Data Management Add-On

The Data Management Add-on license includes Tableau Catalog and Tableau Prep Conductor for a single Tableau Server deployment, which may be role-based or core-based. For more information, see About Data Management Add-on.

The Data Management Add-on may require resource cores, which specifies the computing power that is used to run flows for Prep Conductor. Servers with core-based licensing are required to purchase at least four Resource Cores. See License the Data Management Add-on.

In the output returned by tsm licenses list, a single product key for Data Management is indicated by the DATA MANAGEMENT ADD-ON field, which displays true.

Tableau Server Management Add-on

The Tableau Server Management Add-on is licensed on a per deployment basis, which may be role-based or core-based. For more information on Server Management Add-on and the features included in this Add-on, see About Tableau Server Management Add-on.

In the output returned by tsm licenses list, a single product key for Server Management is indicated by the SERVER MANAGEMENT ADD-ON field, which displays true.

Login-based License Management

Login-based license management (LBLM) simplifies licensing for Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder. Instead of using product keys, these products are activated when a user with a Creator's license authenticates with Tableau Server. If a customer is using Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep Builder without Tableau Server, LBLM cannot be used.

For more information, see Login-based License Management.

In the output returned by tsm licenses list, a single product key for login-based licensed management is indicated by the LBLM field, which displays true.

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