How does Tableau work?

Tableau connects and extracts the data stored in various places. It can pull data from any platform imaginable. A simple database such as an excel, pdf, to a complex database like Oracle, a database in the cloud such as Amazon webs services, Microsoft Azure SQL database, Google Cloud SQL & various other data sources can be extracted by Tableau.

When Tableau is launched, ready data connectors are available which allows you to connect to any database. Depending on the version of Tableau that you have purchased the number of data connectors supported by Tableau will vary.

The pulled data can be either connected live or extracted to the Tableau's data engine, Tableau Desktop. This is where Data analyst, data engineer work with data that pulled up & develop visualizations. The created dashboards are shared with the users as a static file. The users who receive the dashboards views the file using Tableau Reader.

The data from the Tableau Desktop can be published to the Tableau server. It’s an enterprise platform where collaboration, distribution, security model, automation features are supported. With the Tableau server, the end users have a better experience in accessing the files from all locations be it a desktop, mobile or email.

Excel Vs Tableau

Both Excel & Tableau are data analysis tools, but each one has its unique approach to data exploration. However, the analysis in Tableau is more potent than excel.

Excel works with rows and columns in spreadsheets whereas Tableau enables in exploring excel data using its drag and drop feature. Tableau formats the data in Graphs, pictures that are easily understandable.

Parameters Excel Tableau
Spreadsheet application used for manipulating the data
Perfect visualization tool used for analysis.
Most suitable for statistical analysis of structured data.
Most suitable for quick and easy representation of big data which helps in resolving the big data issues.
Moderate speed with no option to quicken.
Moderate speed with options to optimize and enhance the progress of an operation.
In-built security feature is weak when compared to Tableau. The security update needs to be installed on a regular basis.
Extensive options to secure data without scripting. Security features like row level security and permission are inbuilt.
User Interface
To utilize excel to full potential, macro & visual basic scripting is required
The tool can be used without any coding knowledge.
Business need
Best for preparing on-off reports with small data
Best while working with big data.
Products Bundled with MS Office tools
Comes with different versions such as Tableau server, cloud & desktop.
Integration Excel integrates with around 60 applications
Tableaus integrated with over 250 applications
Real time data exploration When you are working in excel, you need have an idea of where your data takes you to get to know the insights
In Tableaus, you are free to explore data without even knowing the answer that you want. With the in-built features like data blending and drill-down, you will be able to determine the variations and data patterns.
Easy Visualizations When working in excel, we first manipulate the data that is present and then the visualization such as the different charts, graphs are created manually. To make visualizations easily understandable, you should understand features of an excel well.
Whereas in Tableau, the data is visualized from the beginning.



  • Tableau is an powerful & fastest growing data visualization tool used in the BI Industry
  • The Tableau Product Suite consists of 1) Tableau Desktop 2) Tableau Public 3) Tableau Online 4) Tableau Server and Tableau Reader
  • Tableau Desktop has a rich feature set and allows you to code and customize reports
  • In Tableau public, workbooks created cannot be saved locally, in turn, it sould be saved to the Tableau's public cloud which can be viewed and accessed by anyone
  • Tableau server is particularly used to share workbooks, visualizations that are created in Tableau Desktop application across the organization
  • Tableau online has all the similar functionalities of the Tableau Server, but the data is stored on servers hosted in the cloud which are maintained by the Tableau group.
  • Tableau Reader is a open tool which allows you to see the workbooks & visualizations created using Tableau Desktop or Tableau Public.
  • Tableau connects and extracts the data stored in various places. It can pull data from any platform imaginable.
  • The spreadsheet application is used for manipulating data while Tableau is a perfect visualization tool used for analysis