MicroStrategy - Tableau. Don't fight them, join them.

August 21, 2017

The Third I MicroStrategy-Tableau Connector is an enterprise-grade plug-n-play solution that bridges the MicroStrategy - Tableau gap. 

 

Jump to the demo video.

 

 

If you're a tech-savvy analyst who needs to visualize their data, there is a high chance you're probably using Tableau. One of the reasons you're probably using Tableau is that it allows you to build your own visualizations or publish your own dashboards with little or no help from your IT department. You've probably been maintaining your own data extracts in the form of CSV files or even a small datamart somewhere and you can easily connect to it using the various connectors available to you from within Tableau Desktop. Nothing beats speed of development and you can take any data in virtually any format and Tableau just makes it easy for you to slice and visualize that data. This also encourages analysts to work in silos. You're not really building any metadata in the way MicroStrategy or other tools would. Essentially you would be expected to prepare the dataset yourself and then feed it to Tableau.

 

What would be great is if you were able to access governed datasets from within Tableau. If your organization already has MicroStrategy, then you would leverage MicroStrategy's metadata to build datasets for Tableau to consume. This could be achieved by building a MicroStrategy connector for Tableau. We could use Tableau's Web Data Connector (WDC) SDK to build such a connector.

 

Tableau comes with a set of WDCs that you can use to connect to external data sources. However with their SDK you can build your own connector. The SDK is essentially a set of JavaScript APIs that can pull data from any third-party source as long that that source has some REST API. In our example since the third-party source is MicroStrategy, we can leverage MicroStrategy's SDK to build out own REST APIs that will allow us to access MicroStrategy data

 

The WDC then makes the API calls to pull MicroStrategy data and creates a Tableau workbook using that data. While the connector feels like it is connecting to live data, it always stores the data locally and is only *live at the time of connection*. We can however manually refresh the data from within the workbook or we can schedule refreshes on the Tableau Server. For our connector, we built an authentication page as well in order to authenticate with MicroStrategy from within Tableau. Thus you can leverage MicroStrategy's security framework and control access to data and objects based on your role. Currently we're supporting standard authentication and static datasets but the connector has been built such that we can alter workflows and add new features if there are any specific requests. 

 

So what do you get with the connector? To begin with in order to deploy the connector you need a Tableau Server license. The connector consists of two plugins: a MicroStrategy Web plugin that will need to be deployed on your MicroStrategy Web application. The plugin works with .NET or JSP version of MicroStrategy Web. Additionally you will also get a web application that hosts the Tableau connector. This application can be deployed on either an IIS server or any HTTP server. You'll then need to configure the connector which doesn't take more than a few minutes. Configuring the Tableau connector includes adding the connector web application to a "safe list" which tells the Tableau Server that this connector URL is safe to be accessed by users. Additionally we have also included a configuration file that will contain information about your MicroStrategy servers. The Tableau connector will use this information to access the custom MicroStrategy REST APIs.

 

As always we would love your feedback. Take a look at the demo video and let us know what you think.

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