Choosing a business intelligence tool for your company can be quite daunting, especially if you’re concerned about sharing access to your confidential data with a third party. Fortunately, the availability of self-hosted BI tools that allow you to make use of them behind the safety of your own firewall makes this less of a concern.  

While the on-premise version of Tableau Server is one of the most popular options on the market, there are several alternatives that may surpass Tableau in terms of price point, features, and ease of use.

We’ve compiled a list of 7 Tableau Server alternatives to see how these self-hosted tools compare in terms of features and benefits offered, price plans, and drawbacks.

Tableau Server 

Before we talk about alternatives, let’s take a look at Tableau Server and its features.

Tableau Server is a self-hosted business intelligence application that allows users to organise, edit, share and collaborate on Tableau dashboards. Lauded for its reliability and ease of deployment, Tableau Server is one of the leading BI self-hosted solutions on the market. Adding to its popularity is its simplicity of scalability and sharp integration.

Main features and benefits 

The main features of Tableau Server are very similar to the regular version of Tableau, which we’ve covered in detail previously. They include:

  • Live queries and auto-refreshed data for real-time insights
  • Natural language query builder that supports conversational language
  • An intuitive drag and drop interface 

Tableau Server can be hosted on-premise, which means that companies can host Tableau in their own IT infrastructure, on either Windows or Linux, instead of deploying an installation with Tableau in the cloud. This self-hosted option gives users full control behind their organisations’ firewalls.

Users aren’t limited to pre-defined questions, wizards, or chart types, as Tableau Server enables organisations to ask questions from any published data source using natural language. 

01_example of a data visualisation created using Tableau
Example of a data visualisation created using Tableau. Image source: https://www.tableau.com/products/server

Pricing and offers 

Tableau Server is priced according to 3 packages—Creator, Explorer and Viewer. The price of each package varies depending on how many features are available and the type of access users are permitted.

  • Tableau Creator: Every deployment requires at least one creator, and the self-hosted option costs $70 per user per month 
  • Tableau Explorer: $35 per month for self-hosting. Explorers have limited access to features
  • Tableau Viewer: $12 per month for self-hosting. Viewers have very limited access to features
  • Embedded analytics: Pricing depends on various factors such as the number of users and deployment requirements
  • A 14-day trial is available

Best for

Tableau Server is a good BI tool for medium to large-sized companies that already have a developed IT infrastructure. Companies that are interested in creating highly interactive workbooks and dashboards with data visualisations would also find Tableau Server useful. 

Main drawbacks

As good as Tableau Server can be, it doesn’t come without limitations.

Tableau Server doesn’t have custom elements or widgets for the creation of dashboards, making it challenging to create some visualisations. This calls for the use of advanced methods that non-techie users wouldn’t be familiar with.

There are limitations to the types of data visualisation graphs that can be created and some users have reported slow customer support and poor performance when entering formulae.

When comparing the price of similar BI applications, Tableau Server is among the most expensive, especially for companies with a lot of users.

Now let’s look at 7 great alternatives…

Trevor.io Self-hosted

Trevor.io is known for its quick and hassle-free deployment. Working with a range of SQL databases, Trevor.io connects directly to companies’ databases through read-only transactions, so your data cannot be copied. Like Tableau Server, it’s also available on-premise.

Trevor.io enables admins to provide access to as much data as they deem fit, to free up employees’ time and promote self-service.

Main features and benefits 

Some of the main features and benefits of Trevor.io include:

  • Seamlessly integrates with widely used tools, including Google Sheets, Excel, and Slack. This makes it simple to build automated workflows.
  • Allows you to keep abreast with all company updates with automated Slack notifications. These customised Slack messages are able to combine text, data and URLs.
  • A responsive, world-class support team.
  • Easy to deploy on-premises or to cloud platforms, thereby retaining company security, reducing company overheads and improving flexibility and ease of deployment.
  • Less of a steep learning curve to get team members making queries than you find with tools like Tableau.

Pricing and offers

Pricing for Trevor.io (Self-hosted) is customised based on your requirements for maximum flexibility. New users get 75% off their first 3 months and there’s also a 14-day trial available.

Screenshot depicting the packages, prices and features of each Trevor.io self-hosted offering.
Screenshot depicting the packages, prices and features of each Trevor.io self-hosted offering. Image source: https://trevor.io/pricing/

Best for

Highly-regulated companies dealing with sensitive information would benefit from using Trevor.io’s self-hosted option, as it provides all the benefits of Trevor.io behind the safety of your company’s firewall.

Trevor’s more flexible pricing, agile set-up process, and ongoing support make it ideal for high-growth startups wanting to streamline their team’s data analysis process.

It’s a clear choice for companies that require a highly secure business intelligence tool that has advanced functionality, shares live results, allows unlimited users, and provides interactive dashboards.

Main drawback

Trevor.io’s self-hosted service is a brilliant option, but due to the team’s focus on the querying experience, users might find that it currently lacks some of the charting capabilities of tools like Tableau.

Power BI Report Server 

Microsoft Power BI Report Server is the on-premise version of Microsoft Power BI. It offers companies the flexibility to switch to the cloud whenever they wish. Power BI Report Server allows companies to scale to thousands of users without the fuss because it’s based on an enterprise-grade platform.

Main features and benefits

Some of the main features of Power BI Report Server include:

  • A secure web portal that allows you to display and manage reports and KPIs
  • Tools to create Power BI reports, paginated reports, mobile reports, and KPIs
  • Reports can be viewed on a mobile device, web browser or as an email
  • Hosts Power BI reports (.pbix), Excel files, and paginated reports (.rdl)

Power BI Report Server benefits companies interested in using a tool that’s based on the SQL Server Reporting Services (SSR) Framework.

Report Server functions similar to Power BI Service, but it’s focused mainly on report generation. Several of Report Server’s key features are exclusive and can’t be accessed via any other Microsoft Power BI product.

Some of the features offered by Microsoft Power BI.
Some of the features offered by Microsoft Power BI. Image source: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/report-server/

Pricing and offers

Power BI Server is included in the Power BI Premium package, which costs $4,995 per month. There aren’t any free trials on offer, unlike most Power BI alternatives.

Best for

Large-scale companies interested in recording, monitoring and automating employee KPIs would find Power BI Server to be quite useful. It’ll also be favourable to firms that use other Microsoft products and services.

Main drawbacks

Power BI Report Server users are unable to access some of the powerful features on the Power BI website as Report Server works in isolation. These include: datasets, dashboards, quick insights, and data alerts. Users also can’t analyse data in Excel or create content packs.

New features and fixes in Report Server are rolled out once every 4 months, which is indicative of its sparse update cycle.

Metabase (open source) 

Metabase is an open-source BI tool that allows users to create charts and dashboards using data from several databases and data sources. Metabase is a good option for sharing SQL queries with non-technical users.

Main features and benefits

Some of the main features and benefits of Metabase include:

  • User-friendly for non-techies
  • Allows you to manipulate filters to your liking
  • Users are provided with guidance and suggestions when creating data visualisations
  • Users can feed data directly into the database, thus allowing you to create visualisations by simply dragging and dropping

Pricing and offers

Metabase offers 3 packages: Open Source (free), Pro ($500 per month) and Enterprise (custom priced).

  • The Pro package includes 10 users, Single sign-on via SAML, JWT, or advanced LDAP, Advanced embedding, White labelling, Row-level permissions and table-level data access audit logs
  • The Enterprise package offers everything that’s included in the Open Source and Pro packages, as well as priority support, annual billing and invoices
Packages and pricing of Metabase services.
Packages and pricing of Metabase services. Image source: https://www.metabase.com/pricing/

Best for

Companies that would find Metabase’s self-hosted tool useful tend to include start-ups with non-techie teams, companies that have only a single SQL data source, and those with limited capital to invest in BI software.

Main drawbacks

This tool lacks key features that are available in several Metabase alternatives, such as ad hoc reports, benchmarking, NLG, performance metrics, predictive analytics, and tools for strategic planning and trend/problem indicators. It also only works well with a single, SQL data source.

As an open-source platform, the only support available is Metabase’s community support forum unless you negotiate an SLA with them directly to provide a support plan.

Qlik Sense 

The full version of Qlik Sense, Qlik Sense Enterprise SaaS, uses containerised multi-cloud architecture and allows users to self-host on-premises on both Windows and Kubernetes. This business intelligence platform supports a full spectrum of analytics on its multi-cloud system, enabling self-service data visualization to empower companies to explore data and custom analytic applications to support specific business processes or use cases.

Main features and benefits

Some of Qlik Sense’s main features and benefits include:

  • Allows for local and offline usage of interactive dashboards and analytics apps, and to create visualisations
  • Allows for multiple user types
  • Guided analytics to align users to a standard business process or workflow
  • Embedded analytics to enhance websites and applications
  • Modern analytics visualisations
Screenshot depicting features of Qlik Sense Enterprise SaaS.
Screenshot depicting features of Qlik Sense Enterprise SaaS. Image source: https://www.qlik.com/us/pricing

Pricing and offers

The self-hosted option offered by Qlik Sense is custom-priced. Additional offerings such as Insight Adviser Chat, Qlik NPrinting, and Geocoding are available at an additional cost. There are free trials available, but the duration isn’t stated.

Best for

Qlik Sense (self-hosted) would be great for big companies interested in building complex data models and dashboards quickly and those seeking quick views of company performance and activity.

Main drawbacks

Data solution can be sluggish when working with large data sets and some charts are too basic, resulting in limited visualisations.

Redash (self-hosted)

Designed to enable anyone regardless of their technical expertise, Redash is a collaborative visualisation and dashboarding platform that allows users to share insights within and across teams. The main objective of this open-source SQL-based BI tool is to promote fast and easy access to large data sets across the most popular data sources.

Main features and benefits

Redash (self-hosted) offers these features and benefits:

  • Users can drag and drop while building visualisations – making it easy for beginners to use
  • Browser-based, and you can easily share it through a URL
  • Compose SQL and NoSQL queries with a schema browser. Includes an auto-complete feature
  • Compatible with AWS EC2 AMI, DigitalOcean, and Docker with a minimum of 2 GB of RAM
Features of the Redash query editor.
Features of the Redash query editor. Image source: https://redash.io/product/

Pricing and offers

Redash offers 3 packages: Starter ($49 per month), Professional ($99 per month), and Business ($450 per month).

  • Each package comes with a limit on data sources. Starter = 3 sources, Professional = 10 sources, and Business = unlimited sources and dashboards
  • There’s a free 30-day trial that gives you access to all the features of the Business package
  • Price doesn’t depend on the number of users, thereby empowering companies to engage in self-service analytics

Best for

Companies that are only interested in analysing small sets of data would find Redash’s self-hosted tool easy to work with. Users who have in-depth knowledge of SQL would also be able to navigate Redash without a hassle.

Main drawbacks

Redash can be slow when analysing big data, according to some users. It also lacks proper data management features, making it difficult for administrators to control the flow of data, which poses a major challenge in terms of data security.

Looker (customer-hosted) 

Looker, which is now part of Google, acts as the API for all your data and rapidly delivers customer experience depending on your data requirements. Looker’s interface is browser-based and eliminates the need for desktop client software installation and maintenance. This BI software offers a modern and intuitive experience that allows for link-based sharing of content.

Main features and benefits

Looker offers these features:

  • Gives you access to real-time reports and dashboards
  • Offers custom applications that are purpose-built to deliver relevant data
  • APIs for integration into custom or third-party applications
  • Customizable dashboards
  • Easy-to-build dashboards compatible with any device
  • Extensible modelling language (LookLM) defines dimensions and measures
  • Useful across various industries such as retail, healthcare and financial services, and telecom and media
Example of a Looker data visualisation. Image source: https://looker.com/platform/data-modeling

Pricing and offers

Pricing for Looker (customer-hosted) is customized based on the number of users and type of deployment.

Best for

Large enterprises with a budget and time to deploy a tool of this nature and small businesses that wish to empower their data teams and leverage the functionality of Looker would find this BI tool very helpful.

Main drawbacks

The main drawbacks of Looker’s customer hosted BI tool are a lack of flexibility within the system, incompatibility with raw data sets, and the fact it can be high-maintenance for your team to set up and run. Security groups and restrictions can also be confusing to set up and maintain when compared to Looker alternatives.

SAP BusinessObjects 

SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence tool transforms data into useful and relevant metrics in real time. This on-premises option provides flexible architecture, offers increased user autonomy, and reduces employees’ dependence on IT teams and engineers.

Main features and benefits

Here are some of the main features of SAP BusinessObjects:

  • Offers ad hoc queries, reporting, and analysis that allows users to understand trends and root causes
  • Web-based interface, which allows for simple data access and interactive analysis
  • Allows users to reuse reports and comment in multiple languages
  • Enhanced mobile experience at any time and from anywhere
  • On-premise users can be onboarded to the cloud while remaining synchronized with their identity provisioning system, and several database credentials can be matched to a given workflow or client
Example of SAP BusinessObjects KPI data visualisation.
Example of SAP BusinessObjects KPI data visualisation. Image source: https://www.sap.com/africa/products/bi-platform/features.html

Pricing and offers

There isn’t any pricing information available from SAP BusinessObjects. However, a third-party site indicates that pricing starts at approximately $14,000 per year.

Best for

SAP BusinessObjects is best for large-scale enterprises with thousands of users who require ad-hoc reporting capabilities and a robust scheduling engine.

Main drawbacks

This tool is expensive compared to competitors. Its system also lags when using complex functions and calculations. Some users have reported that they’ve experienced very poor customer support from SAP BusinessObjects.

What should I look out for when choosing a self-hosted business intelligence solution?

  • Is the self-hosted tool easy to deploy to your company infrastructure? 
  • Does the company you’re considering offer customer support for its self-hosted option? If not, do you have experts to troubleshoot when issues arise or to facilitate upgrades and perform maintenance from time to time?
  • What safety measures does the company have in place to protect your data?

Which Tableau Server alternative is best for your business? 

You need to understand what objectives you’d like to achieve before choosing the business intelligence platform that best suits your company. 

These alternatives are all capable and might be the right fit for your business, but a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work. There are a lot of factors to consider, from how technical your team is to how many users you have.

If you’re in the market for a user-friendly, self-service BI tool aimed at giving non-tech people direct access to data analytics reporting, then Trevor.io should be high on your list of Tableau alternatives—especially since it can also be installed on-premise, behind your company’s firewall. 

Trevor.io replaces data requests, which create work for the data engineering team, empowering your whole business to get answers from your database data, in just a few clicks.

FAQs

What can I use instead of Tableau? 

There are several options to choose from, such as Trevor.io, Qlik Sense, and Looker. Trevor.io’s self-hosted BI tool easily integrates with several apps, including Google Sheets, Excel and Slack, and connects directly to companies’ databases through read-only transactions, so your data cannot be copied. 

Is Tableau Server free to use? 

Tableau Server is not free to use, however, Tableau Public is free of charge. There is a free 14-day trial available for Tableau Server.

Who are Tableau’s competitors?

Tableau’s competitors include Trevor.io, Metabase, Qlik Sense, Power BI, Redash, and SAP BusinessObjects. 

Is there an open source alternative to Tableau? 

There are many open-source alternatives to Tableau, including Metabase and Redash.