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Publish and Share SQL Analysis Services Data Dashboards with Tableau Server

The CData ODBC driver for SQL Analysis Services enables you integrate SQL Analysis Services data into Tableau dashboards.

Integrate connectivity to SQL Analysis Services data into your enterprise reporting capabilities. The CData ODBC Driver for SQL Analysis Services enables you to access live SQL Analysis Services data in business intelligence tools like Tableau Server. Connectivity to SQL Analysis Services APIs enables you to monitor changes to your data in real time. Other members of your organization can access your dashboards from a Web browser and get updates from their mobile phone.

This article walks through the process of configuring a DSN on the client and server machines, publishing a data source for SQL Analysis Services to Tableau Server, and publishing an entire Workbook to Tableau Server (including the data source). If you publish a data source, you will be able to create new, refreshable workbooks in Tableau Server.

Connect to SQL Analysis Services as an ODBC Data Source

To create a data source or workbook in Tableau Desktop and publish the data source or workbook to Tableau server, you will need to configure a DSN on each machine (Desktop and Server), specifying connection properties and creating DSNs using the same name on each machine. Information for connecting to SQL Analysis Services follows, along with different instructions for configuring a DSN in Windows and Linux environments.

To connect, provide authentication and set the Url property to a valid SQL Server Analysis Services endpoint. You can connect to SQL Server Analysis Services instances hosted over HTTP with XMLA access. See the Microsoft documentation to configure HTTP access to SQL Server Analysis Services.

To secure connections and authenticate, set the corresponding connection properties, below. The data provider supports the major authentication schemes, including HTTP and Windows, as well as SSL/TLS.

  • HTTP Authentication

    Set AuthScheme to "Basic" or "Digest" and set User and Password. Specify other authentication values in CustomHeaders.

  • Windows (NTLM)

    Set the Windows User and Password and set AuthScheme to "NTLM".

  • Kerberos and Kerberos Delegation

    To authenticate with Kerberos, set AuthScheme to NEGOTIATE. To use Kerberos delegation, set AuthScheme to KERBEROSDELEGATION. If needed, provide the User, Password, and KerberosSPN. By default, the data provider attempts to communicate with the SPN at the specified Url.

  • SSL/TLS:

    By default, the data provider attempts to negotiate SSL/TLS by checking the server's certificate against the system's trusted certificate store. To specify another certificate, see the SSLServerCert property for the available formats.

You can then access any cube as a relational table: When you connect the data provider retrieves SSAS metadata and dynamically updates the table schemas. Instead of retrieving metadata every connection, you can set the CacheLocation property to automatically cache to a simple file-based store.

See the Getting Started section of the CData documentation, under Retrieving Analysis Services Data, to execute SQL-92 queries to the cubes.

When you configure the DSN, you may also want to set the Max Rows connection property. This will limit the number of rows returned, which is especially helpful for improving performance when designing reports and visualizations.

Windows

If you are installing the CData ODBC Driver for SQL Analysis Services on Windows, DSN configuration is the last step of the driver installation. If you already have the driver installed, or you wish to configure new DSNs, you can use the Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator.

Linux

If you are installing the CData ODBC Driver for SQL Analysis Services in a Linux environment, the driver installation predefines a system DSN. You can modify the DSN by editing the system data sources file (/etc/odbc.ini) and defining the required connection properties.

/etc/odbc.ini

[CData SSAS Source] Driver = CData ODBC Driver for SQL Analysis Services Description = My Description User = myuseraccount Password = mypassword URL = http://localhost/OLAP/msmdpump.dll

For specific information on using these configuration files, please refer to the help documentation (installed and found online).

Publish the SQL Analysis Services Data Source to Tableau Server

With the connections to SQL Analysis Services data configured, you are ready to publish a SQL Analysis Services data source on Tableau, ready to be leveraged by users in your organization to create workbooks based on SQL Analysis Services data.

Create and Publish a Data Source

  1. In the Connect pane, click More -> Other Databases (ODBC). Select CData SSAS Sys, the system DSN.

    The driver installation automatically creates matching user and system DSNs: The system DSN is needed to connect from Tableau Server.

  2. In the Database menu, select CData.
  3. In the Table box, enter a table name or click New Custom SQL to enter an SQL query.
  4. Drag the table onto the join area.
  5. From the Server menu, click Publish Data Source -> (YOUR DATA SOURCE).
  6. Enter the URL to the server. For most instances, you will authenticate with the Tableau Server username and password. Other authentication scenarios can be found below:
    • If Tableau is configured to use Kerberos and your computer has valid Active Directory credentials, Tableau connects to the server.
    • If Tableau is configured to use SAML, a login prompt for your external identity provider is displayed.
    • If Tableau is configured to use Active Directory, enter your Windows username and password.
  7. In the resulting dialog, set the Project, Data Source, and other properties. If you want to schedule refreshes, select Embedded Password in the Authentication menu. Click Publish.

You and other users in your organization can now create and share workbooks based on the published data source.

Refresh Workbooks

With a system DSN configured on the client (Tableau Desktop) machine and server (Tableau Server) machine, you can refresh workbooks connected to the SQL Analysis Services data source. From the Web interface for Tableau Sever, click Data -> (YOUR DATA SOURCE) -> Refresh.

Publish a Completed Workbook with SQL Analysis Services Data to Tableau Server

If you have a specific Workbook that you wish to share with your organization, you can create the Workbook on Tableau Desktop and publish the Workbook directly to Tableau Server.

  1. To connect to SQL Analysis Services and select data, follow steps 1-5 above.
  2. Click Server -> Sign in and configure the connection to the server. For most instances, you will authenticate with the Tableau Server username and password. Other authentication scenarios can be found below:
    • If Tableau is configured to use Kerberos and your computer has valid Active Directory credentials, Tableau connects to the server.
    • If Tableau is configured to use SAML, a login prompt for your external identity provider is displayed.
    • If Tableau is configured to use Active Directory, enter your Windows username and password.
  3. With the data selected, select dimensions and measures to visualize and select a type of chart or graph to build your visualization(s).
  4. Once the Workbook is complete, click Server -> Publish Workbook to publish the Workbook to Tableau Server.
  5. In the resulting dialog, set the Project, Name, Description and other properties. If you want to schedule refreshes, click Edit under Data Sources and change the Authentication option to Embedded Password. Click Publish.

You and other users in your organization can now review the published workbook from Tableau Server.