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Every day, businesses monitor system resources for performance, security, performance, and workflows. Otherwise, they jeopardize day-to-day operations when issues go unnoticed. Tableau presents itself as a data-driven monitoring tool that enhances data analysis of physical and virtual server environments. But just how good is it?
Tableau has been around since 2003, but Salesforce's acquisition of its parent company Tableau Software has further strengthened its position as a market leader, with more than 70,000 customer accounts. Is it time to add Tableau to your tech stack?
In this Tableau review for 2020, learn the pros, cons, features, and alternatives to this software — and what customers think! Plus, discover a more cost-effective alternative that's just as effective called MetricFire.
MetricFire is a time-series monitoring tool that provides great dashboards, alerting, notifications and analytics to your data. See your time-series data in beautiful Grafana dashboards - monitor your application, infrastructure, networks, and business intelligence.
What is Tableau?
Tableau is a suite of tools that provides an organization with a 360-degree overview of its data. In an infrastructure and application monitoring context, users can access key insights with Tableau's drag-and-drop feature and create powerful data visualization and real-time reports.
Tableau isn't just one product, but several. Here are the main four:
- Desktop: Data visualization software that lets users access valuable monitoring intelligence on their desktop computers. Comes in Professional and Personal editions.
- Server: Enterprise-ready hosted platform that lets users share monitoring insights without having to open Tableau Desktop.
- Online: Cloud-hosted platform that does much of the same as Tableau Server, but users access data insights from their browsers.
- Mobile: The free app for Tableau Server/Tableau Online. Users access data insights from their smartphones.
MetricFire matches Tableau for scope. MetricFire packs a punch when it comes to enterprise-level cloud-based intelligence and server/application monitoring, with stunning "Grafana" dashboards for deep data insights on servers, applications, IT networks, and other infrastructure. Unlike Tableau, MetricFire is completely open-source, so you can scale your monitoring metrics as you scale your business.
Tableau Features: How Do They Compare to MetricFire?
Tableau is best known for its drag-and-drop capabilities, allowing users to view data visuals and predict proactive monitoring trends easily. However, MetricFire is just as simple to use, with its intuitive UI. Depending on your set up, you can incorporate Hosted Prometheus or Graphite (which can process millions of data points per second) into your monitoring environment. There's also remote storage (you can retain metrics indefinitely) and team access.
It's easier than ever before to see data on Tableau. Users can access and create data visualizations on powerful dashboards that generate real-time monitoring insights. However, MetricFire's visualizations look just as good, with slick graphics that enhance monitoring data.
On Tableau, users can connect to various live and in-memory data sources without the need for programming. These include PDF files, SQL Server, Dropbox, and more. Users can switch between live and in-memory sources, and receive notifications when a data connection fails.
MetricFire is also big on integrations, with support for logging tools, AWS, and Heroku, among others. You can modify and automate everything with various APIs and set up alerts for actionable events via email, Slack, PagerDuty, and more.
On Tableau, users can analyze key performance indicators (KPIs) from different dashboards at once, and the service updates these KPIs in real-time. Grafana dashboards on MetricFire are feature-rich, allowing you to view KPIs on multiple rows, panels, and customizable graphs (and zoom into all of these for deeper monitoring insights).
Tableau users can share monitoring trends with other users (via Server or Online). On MetricFire, users can also collaborate with teams (and security-conscious organizations can control access!)
Tableau User Support
There are four levels of user support for all Tableau products:
- Free: Free support (available with all price tiers) includes a "Knowledge Base," FAQs, weekly web seminars, on-demand training, and the Tableau community, where users discuss tips and problems.
- Technical Support Program: For an extra fee, this program includes multiple location support and phone and email communication, with an escalation process for unresolved issues.
- Elite Account Management Program: Ongoing access to a technical account manager.
- OEM Technical Support Program: All the benefits above plus access to a partner support engineer for critical issues.
If this all sounds a little complicated, there's an alternative. MetricFire doesn't charge extra for customer support, so you get the same service regardless of price. The quickest way to reach out is via email or phone, but you can also schedule a video call via appear.in, which supports screen sharing. It's worth noting that Tableau's free support only operates during business hours, but you can contact MetricFire 24/7. (The company has offices all over the world supporting customers in different time zones.)
Is MetricFire Cheaper Than Tableau?
You can't pay for just one of Tableau's products (Desktop, for example). Instead, the company's pricing reflects the demands of its user base. There are three main pricing tiers. All tiers include the "Free" user support option listed above, product updates, and regular maintenance.
- Best for individuals and small businesses
- Costs: $70 per month (billed annually)
- Access to Desktop and a 1-year license to Server or Online
- Best for small and medium-sized businesses with several users
- Costs: $35-42 per user per month (billed annually)
- Ongoing access to Server or Online
- Best for small and medium-sized businesses that want a more streamlined version of Explorer
- Costs: $12-15 per user per month (billed annually)
- Note: Minimum of 100 users
- Limited access to Server or Online. Users can access dashboards and visualizations, but not create them.
As you can see, Tableau's "per user, per month" pricing principle for the Explorer and Viewer packages soon adds up if you have multiple users. Explorer for a team of 100 employees, for example, costs $3,500 per month.
For budget-conscious businesses, MetricFire, at the very most, costs $1,599 per month (a $2,000 saving), and, unlike Viewer, you can customize visualizations. There are monthly plans if you prefer paying for the short-term, and free monitoring for 14 days.
Tableau Customer Reviews
Tableau currently holds a 4.4/5 rating on the software review website G2 (based on 791 reviews).
I like the ease of transforming large volumes of data into simple and easy to understand visualizations," says one user who works for a mid-market medium-sized company. "I'm able to analyze a ton of data within a few minutes very quickly.
Sometimes it takes a while to refresh. It takes a lot of effort in data manipulation to match queries," says a management consultant for a small business. "Creating dashboards to show the right kind of visuals at times involves creating multiple worksheets which can be tedious.
As a newer company, MetricFire has far fewer customer reviews than Tableau. However, MetricFire's users are more than pleased with this open-source tool. One user calls Hosted Graphite a "fantastic" platform that's "easy to use."
Tableau brims with useful features for intuitive, interactive monitoring. Users can view, edit, create, and share data online and via mobile. However, other options like MetricFire are more cost effective, just as powerful, and come with more flexible customer service options.