Changes in Licensing and Site Roles When Upgrading Tableau Server


Changes in Licensing and Site Roles When Upgrading Tableau Server


It can be a challenge to know exactly what happens in regard to Tableau Server licensing and site roles when you plan to upgrade, especially from a pre-2018.1 version. Here, I tested all potential site roles from upgrading Tableau Server 10.5 to 2018.3.

Starting with a clean install of Tableau Server 10.5 with user-based licensing, I added Active Directory users by syncing the SALES – All group with AD (easy to populate the server for testing). This added 25 users with Interactor Site Roles:

site roles in Tableau Server

I set one of each Site Role for the top six users. These included:

  • Server Administrator
  • Site Administrator
  • Publisher
  • Interactor
  • Viewer
  • Unlicensed

Tableau Server site roles

Then I backed up the 10.5 Server with the tabadmin backup -v C:\105_backup command, which verifies the repository during the back-up and places it under the C:\ directory. I named it 105_backup.tsbak:

Tableau Server site roles code

Installing Tableau Server 2018.3

To upgrade from a non-TSM version to one that uses Tableau Services Manager, I first had to uninstall Tableau Server 10.5 from Programs and Features but keep the existing folder structure. Then I installed Tableau Server 2018.3 and chose the upgrade option. Tableau Server uses the existing Tableau Server folders and files during the upgrade process:

Tableau Server site roles code

Once that was finished, I logged into the TSM web UI as a local administrator, started Tableau Server and waited for all those little green checkmarks. I opened a new browser tab and navigated to my Tableau Server URL and logged in with the Tableau Server Administrator account.

The licensing in 10.5 turns into Explorer licenses in 2018.3. You can see that I now have 30 Explorer licenses with 24 being used, one user is using the Viewer level license, and one user is Unlicensed:

Tableau Server licenses

Everything stays the same with the site roles, except Publisher becomes Explorer (can publish) and Interactor becomes Explorer:

Tableau Server site roles

Server Administrators are still under the Explorer license since we haven’t purchased Creator licenses yet:

site role updates in Tableau Server

Above: Explorer – Server Administrator (Tableau Server only; not applicable to Tableau Online)

If Explorer is the highest license type activated on the server when a new server administrator user is created, the user’s site role is Server Administrator; however, the user will not have the connecting and publishing capabilities that come only with the Creator license.

A Word on the Explorer License

With the Explorer license, a Server Administrator has unrestricted access to the configuration settings for the Tableau Server browser environment, all sites on the server, users and groups, and all content assets, such as projects, data sources (including connection information) and workbooks.

However, with the Explorer license, a Server Administrator cannot connect to Tableau-published data sources or external data from the browser, Tableau Desktop or Tableau Prep; they cannot create and publish new data sources; and they cannot author or publish workbooks.

To test the change in Site Roles with a new Creator license, I deactivated the existing license from the TSM web UI:

licensing in Tableau Server upgrade

Then I activated the 30 new Creator user licenses I had and checked to see the changes to the user’s Site Roles in Tableau Server:

site role changes in Tableau Server upgrade

As you can see, the Server Administrators were automatically given a Creator license and the Creator Server Administrator Site Role. The rest of the user’s Site Roles stayed the same, but I have the option to give any of them Creator and the means to use Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep.

New Licenses

I now have the option to give any of the users a Creator license and the means to use Tableau Desktop and Tableau Prep. When purchasing Creator licenses for Tableau Server, you will receive two different licenses: one for your Desktop/Prep users and one for the Tableau Server Admin to activate on Tableau Server.

TC****** = Tableau Desktop/Prep Creator Licenses will start with TC

TS****** = Tableau Server Creator Licenses will start with TS

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More About the Author

Colby Owens

Solutions Architect
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