Tableau Software made an announcement today it feels is its most significant since going public: It is moving to the cloud.

Seattle-based Tableau originally filed for its IPO in early April and promptly became a Wall Street darling. The company held a press conference to unveil its “Tableau online” product, a cloud-based version of its data visualization and analysis software.

It may seem like Tableau is just the latest arrival at the cloud party, but the company has seen steady demand for its desktop tools, which offer an alternative to Microsoft Excel.

“Data visualization applications like Tableau are ushering in a post-spreadsheet era, threatening to kill Excel as the killer app for desktop analytics,” said data scientist Mike Driscoll, who is also the CEO of Metamarkets, in a recent interview with VentureBeat.

Tableau's cloud-based product has been in the works for several years

Above: Tableau’s cloud-based product has been in the works for several years.

Image Credit: Tableau

The benefits for existing customers: Tableau Online is mobile, so it’s possible to edit dashboards in any web browser or tablet device. In addition, there’s no confusion about which version is the most recent, as the new product includes automatic updates. For fast-growing startups, Tableau says its cloud-based product can scale and has no limit on the number of users.

Finally, customers can pull together data from disparate sources, whether it’s databases or SaaS tools (, Google BigQuery and so on), and Tableau Online will display it in a visual dashboard.

However, these are all fairly standard benefits of the cloud. Don’t expect a slew of snazzy new features. While the delivery model is new, the product is essentially the same. The only key difference is that customers can publish a data dashboard to the web and share it with external clients without granting access behind the corporate firewall.

Tableau has been testing its cloud product under-the-radar, and has attracted about 200 customers. It has been in the works for about two years, GigaOm reports.

The pricing model is a bit different — given that it’s cloud-based — so Tableau will have an easier time attracting small businesses and startups. Tableau Online is available for $500 per person / per year, according to the website; by comparison, the desktop product for professionals is available for $1,999 per person / per year.

In November of 2012, VentureBeat featured Tableau as one of 10 startups leading the way in ‘big data.’

At the time, Tableau CEO Christian Chabot hinted at the company’s future goals: “Our mission, to help people everywhere see and understand data, isn’t all that different from Google’s.”


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