Tableau Server requires an identity store to manage user and group information. There are two kinds of identity stores: local and external. When you install Tableau Server you must configure either a local identity store or an external identity store.
When you configure Tableau Server with a local identity store, all user and group information is stored and managed in the Tableau Server repository. In the local identity store scenario, there is no external source for users and groups.
When you configure Tableau Server with an external store, all user and group information is stored and managed by an external directory service. Tableau Server must synchronise with the external identity store so that local copies of the users and groups exist in the Tableau Server repository, but the external identity store is the authoritative source for all user and group data.
If you have configured the Tableau Server identity store to communicate with an external LDAP directory, then all users (including the initial admin account) that you add to Tableau Server must have an account in the directory.
When Tableau Server is configured to use an external LDAP directory, you must first import user identities from the external directory into the Tableau Server repository as system users. When users sign in to Tableau Server, their credentials are passed to the external directory, which is responsible for authenticating the user; Tableau Server does not perform this authentication. However, the Tableau user names stored in the identity store are associated with rights and permissions for Tableau Server. Therefore, after authentication is verified, Tableau Server manages user access (authorisation) for Tableau resources.
Active Directory is an example of an external user store. Tableau Server is optimised to interface with Active Directory. For example, when you install Tableau Server on an Active Directory domain-joined computer using the Configure Initial Node Settings, Setup will detect and configure most Active Directory settings. If, on the other hand, you are using TSM CLI to install Tableau Server, you must specify all the Active Directory settings. In this case, be sure to use the LDAP - Active Directory template to configure identity store.
If you are installing into Active Directory, you must install Tableau Server onto a computer that is joined to the Active Directory domain. Additionally, we recommend that you review User Management in Deployments with External Identity Stores before you deploy.
For all other external stores, Tableau Server supports LDAP as a generic way to communicate the identity store. For example, OpenLDAP is one of several LDAP server implementations with a flexible schema. Tableau Server can be configured to query the OpenLDAP server. To do this, the directory administrator must provide information about the schema. During setup, you must use Configure Initial Node Settings to configure a connection to other LDAP directories.
Clients that wish to query a user store using LDAP must authenticate and establish a session. This is done by binding. There are multiple ways to bind. Simple binding is authenticating with a username and password. For organisations that connect to Tableau Server with simple bind, we recommend configuring an SSL encrypted connection, otherwise the credentials are sent over the wire in plaintext. Another type of binding Tableau Server supports is GSSAPI binding. GSSAPI uses Kerberos to authenticate. In Tableau Server’s case, Tableau Server is the client and the external user store is the LDAP server.
We recommend binding to LDAP directory with GSSAPI using a keytab file to authenticate to the LDAP server. You will need a keytab file specifically for the Tableau Server service. We also recommend encrypting the channel with the LDAP server using SSL/TLS. See Configure Encrypted Channel to LDAP External Identity Store.
If you are installing into Active Directory, and the computer where you are installing Tableau Server is already joined to the domain, then the computer may already have a configuration file and a keytab file. In this case, the Kerberos files are for the operating system functionality and authentication. Strictly speaking, you can use these files for GSSAPI bind, but we don't recommend using them. Instead, contact your Active Directory administrator and request a keytab specifically for the Tableau Server service. See Understanding Keytab Requirements.
Assuming your operating system has a properly configured keytab for authentication to the domain, then the Kerberos keyfile for GSSAPI bind is all you need for the base installation of Tableau Server. If you plan to use Kerberos authentication for users, then configure Kerberos for user authentication and Kerberos delegation to data sources after installation is complete.
By default, LDAP with simple bind to arbitrary LDAP servers is not encrypted. User credentials that are used to establish the bind session with the LDAP server are communicated in plaintext between Tableau Server and the LDAP server. We strongly recommend that you encrypt the channel between Tableau Server and the LDAP server.
If your organisation uses an LDAP directory other than Active Directory, see Configure Encrypted Channel to LDAP External Identity Store.
Basic user authentication in Tableau Server is by username and password sign-in for both local and external user stores. In the local case, user passwords are stored as a hashed password in the repository. In the external case, Tableau Server passes the credentials to the external user store and awaits a response as to whether the credentials are valid. External user stores can also handle other kinds of authentication like Kerberos or SSPI (Active Directory only), but the concept is still the same, Tableau Server delegates the credentials or user to the external store and awaits a response.
You can configure Tableau Server such that username-password sign-in is disabled. In these scenarios other authentication methods, such as trusted authentication, OpenID, or SAML can be used. See Authentication.