Alation + Tableau — Announcing Deeper Integration for Governance for Insight

Aaron Kalb
Aaron Kalb Head of Product

Every day, thousands of business decisions are made on the basis of Tableau visualizations—maps, bars, dots, and lines telling stories about the world. This week in Las Vegas, over 15,000 Tableau users are gathered to celebrate storytelling with Tableau. As a company, Tableau has gone beyond delivering software. They’re creating a movement. Tableau’s product and vibrant community of users are building a more data-driven society where facts inform decisions.

This brave new world is exciting, but not without risk. If any visualizations are based on data that’s stale or skewed, or if they feature incorrectly calculated (or incorrectly interpreted) measures, then decisions can go wrong. So we’re thrilled to be a key Tableau partner preventing “fake news” from propagating in the enterprise.

Alation and Tableau share a vision for a world in which decision makers get all the context they need for truly informed choices, just in time, as they work. Last year, we debuted our first integration with Tableau Server: data stewards working in Alation could endorse or deprecate a Tableau Workbook in Alation and that information would be reflected in Tableau Server by moving that workbook into a project with or without “Certified” appended to its name. While this integration helped customers like GoDaddy and Pfizer more successfully govern their implementations for thousands of users, we knew we could do better.

Today, I’m thrilled to announce two further steps toward true governance for insight, building on recently released (and one just-announced) Tableau technology.

First, we’ve extended the idea of “badging” trustworthy assets with a seal of approval in Tableau Server. Now with Tableau 10.4, joint customers can endorse a Tableau Data Source (TDS) via its page in Alation Catalog and see a corresponding certification in Tableau Server. The certification includes the names of all data stewards and curators in Alation who’ve approved of the TDS and the date of the latest endorsement. If someone deprecates the TDS, that overrides the endorsements and removes the certification. Since Alation already traces the lineage of TDSs back to source tables and propagates data quality issues downstream, the new functionality makes it easier than ever for knowledge about faulty data pipelines to be transmitted to the people being affected, right where they live (i.e. in Tableau Server).

Tableau Data Sources in Tableau Server can now be certified by data stewards in Alation Catalog.

Second, we’re revealing a preview of a feature coming in Tableau 10.5: our integration with Tableau Dashboard Extensions. Projects and certifications on Tableau Server put Tableau assets in context. But we wanted to go further and put Alation context intoTableau visualizations. At Tableau’s Keynote this morning, they unveiled how we’re now able to embedall the rich context of Alation Catalog right inside Tableau dashboards. Through our Alation Dashboard Extension, users can see the quality flags on all the data tables used in a visualization, as well as the definitions of any dimensions and measures found in Alation’s Business Glossary. By surfacing technical and business metadata, Alation helps users understand what they’re seeing and whether they can trust it, in real time. So if a number seems wrong, a user can see at-a-glance whether the issue is inaccurate data or just (for example) an unexpected definition of “Europe”—without ever leaving their Tableau experience.


The Alation Tableau Dashboard Extension surfaces technical and business metadata that helps users understand what they are seeing and whether they can trust it, in real time. In the viz above, it appears at first like star-seller Alex Thompson is being surpassed by newcomer Alex Smith. The Alation Extension offers a peak into the underlying data to show the true story: Alexandra Thompson got married and continues to excel under a new name.

At Alation, we’re committed to ensuring that enterprises embracing self-service analytics can truly trust in data. We believe in a curious and rational world in which data drives decision-making. Alation and Tableau share perfectly complementary visions: they help people see and understand data, and we empower people to find, understand, and trust data. We both know that before you can visualize and tell stories with data, you have to find trustworthy datasets to analyze. So we look forward to working with our customers and the Tableau community for many more years to build a data-driven world.

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