Understanding Licence 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 licences list. The Tableau Customer Portal(Link opens in a new window) will also display product key information including type and seat count.

Term licensing models

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

  • A role-based licence 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 licences of each type.

  • A core-based licence metric imposes no constraints on the number of user accounts in Tableau Server. Instead, the licence 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 licence 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 licences list, the TYPE field describes the user licence metric.

Role-based licence model

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

  • Viewer licences let users view and interact with workbooks in Tableau Server. Viewer licences 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 licences are similar to the user-based licences available in previous Tableau Server releases, and include the capabilities provided with Viewer licences, and additional capabilities. An Explorer licence allows access to workbook authoring capabilities using a web browser, as well as a full set of collaboration features.
  • Creator licences permit a wide range of capabilities when using Tableau Server, and also grant use of Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep Builder. A Creator licence allows all of the capabilities available under the Explorer licence, 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 licences are added to the server, any existing Server Admin accounts using Explorer licences will automatically convert to use Creator licences.

TSM administrator accounts do not require licences.

Product keys are used to activate and add licences to Tableau Server. Administrators can activate additional product keys to add licences, 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 licences. Once the product keys have been activated, administrators can add users and assign them site roles, which automatically consume available licences.

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

Core-based licence model

In a core licensing model, the licence 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 licence 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 licence is required to create new content and publish it to Tableau Server. For content publishing in a core-based organisation, one of the following must be purchased:

  • At least one role-based Creator licence 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 licence for Tableau Desktop to be able to publish to Tableau Server.

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

Perpetual licence model (legacy)

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

In the perpetual licence 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 licences 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 licences by the seat, similar to current role-based licensing. However, unlike role-based licensing, where different access roles are priced accordingly, in interactor licensing, licences 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 licences are no longer available. However, customers that purchased the legacy perpetual licences may still purchase annual maintenance.

In the output returned by tsm licences 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 licence 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 organisation.

For example, consider an organisation that runs a service where they analyse consumer data and generate reports on behavioural patterns regarding different consumer demographics. In this scenario, Tableau Server acts in support of a specific proprietary application titled ‘Demographics Analyser’ and connects with exported TXT files and a SQL database. The organisation makes visualisations 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 licences.

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

Feature licences

Feature licences are sold differently than other licences. Features with independent licences 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 licences or perpetual maintenance terms:

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

Data Management Add-On

The Data Management Add-on licence includes Tableau Catalogue 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 Licence the Data Management Add-on.

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

Login-based Licence Management

Login-based licence 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 licence 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 Licence Management.

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

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