Tableau Uses AWS to Scale Faster and Increase Resiliency of SaaS Offering
Migrating to AWS was seamless, and customers started having three to five times better performance across the board.”
Vice President of Cloud Engineering, Tableau
Breaking Out of an On-Premises System and into the Cloud
Seeing Instant Results on AWS
Tableau didn’t waste any time with its lift-and-shift Tableau Online migration. “We did one clean swoop to move everything—all the customer workloads and processes for Tableau Online—to AWS,” says Pankaj Dhingra, vice president of cloud engineering at Tableau. First, the migration team designed its network layer, providing security and connectivity among its environments on Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC), which helps businesses launch AWS resources in logically isolated virtual networks that they define.
The next step of the migration involved Tableau Online’s storage layer. The company opted for Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for PostgreSQL, which makes it simple to set up, operate, and scale PostgreSQL deployments in the cloud. For compute, Tableau Online relied on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. After discovering that the cloud-native file system on Windows File Server didn’t meet its performance needs, Tableau decided to use a distributed replicated storage solution backed by performance-enhancing Amazon Elastic Block Storage (Amazon EBS) volumes, which are durable block-level storage devices that can be attached to one instance or multiple instances at the same time. Amazon EBS uses Amazon EC2 instances to handle throughput and transaction-intensive workloads at any scale. As a result, queries into Tableau’s database, Hyper, became four times faster.
“Migrating to AWS was seamless,” says Dhingra, “and customers started having three to five times better performance across the board.” The longest load time (99th percentile) for visualizations dropped from 6.6 to 2.2 seconds, and shorter load times (50th percentile) dropped from 0.8 to 0.18 seconds. In one example, the median viz load time decreased from 41.10 seconds to 18.62 seconds, and the median load time distribution in the US-Seattle region decreased from 65.9 seconds to 42.6 seconds. “We got excellent help and resources from the AWS team,” says Dhingra. “AWS Solutions Architects helped us review our designs and future-proof the things that we were doing.” To make sure the cloud solution would perform as efficiently as possible, Tableau tested more than 20,000 Tableau vizzes, data import speeds, compute power, extract refreshes, and data center access speeds. Ultimately, the migration enabled Tableau to triple in scale: for example, the PoD in the US East (N. Virginia) region can support about 100,000 users, whereas the old architecture could handle 30,000–40,000 users per PoD.
The company also gained redundancy and georeplication at high-bandwidth, low-latency networking between AWS Regions and Availability Zones. Visualization load times for Tableau Online improved by two to three times, an observation that finalized Tableau’s decision to go all in on AWS. The company can bring up a new PoD in a new geography in a matter of days using AWS, compared to months on premises. In addition to launching the US East region PoD for Tableau Online in 2019, the company launched two PoDs in 2020: one in the Asia Pacific (Southeast-2) region and one in the Asia Pacific (Northeast-1) region.
Migrating Developer Productivity Systems to AWS
“Our developer productivity system needs were growing at a fast clip, and we spent most of our time procuring new hardware and adding it to our data centers,” says Dhingra. “And by the time we made it ready and functional, we had already outgrown that capacity.”
Tableau realized that although AWS would cost the same as its data centers, it would be more beneficial because AWS managed services would save Tableau time (including a 20 percent time reduction by the operations team) and resources by maintaining hardware, including patching and updates.
Improving Operations and Expanding Business on AWS
On AWS, Tableau increased the performance, reliability, and scalability of Tableau Online while simultaneously reducing costs and streamlining operations. The AWS-powered Tableau Online compute environment also challenged customers’ perceptions of cloud versus on-premises capabilities. “When customers tried Tableau Online, they found the performance to be better than their on-premises hosted Tableau Server,” says Dhingra. “Even though Tableau Online is a multitenant environment, we were able to guarantee better performance.”
Benefits of AWS
- Saw 3–5x improvement in visualization load times
- Dropped longest visualization load time from 6.6 to 2.2 seconds (a 66% load time reduction)
- Saved about $1 million by rightsizing instance types
- Saved 25% of compute by shutting down resources when they were not in use
- Saved 15% on compute
- Increased database query speed by 4x
- Exceeds the 99.9% availability target
- Spins up a new PoD in a new geography in days vs. months
AWS Services Used
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.
Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) is a service that lets you launch AWS resources in a logically isolated virtual network that you define. You have complete control over your virtual networking environment, including selection of your own IP address range, creation of subnets, and configuration of route tables and network gateways.
Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) is an easy to use, high-performance, block-storage service designed for use with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for both throughput and transaction intensive workloads at any scale.
Amazon RDS for PostgreSQL
PostgreSQL has become the preferred open source relational database for many enterprise developers and start-ups, powering leading business and mobile applications. Amazon RDS makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale PostgreSQL deployments in the cloud.
Companies of all sizes across all industries are transforming their businesses every day using AWS. Contact our experts and start your own AWS Cloud journey today.