Every time I have to connect to a new type of data source in Tableau, there seems to be a series of challenges that have to be overcome to make the connection.
These challenges exist because I am completely new to the technology behind the database. I have no experience using the tool, the files and making the Tableau connection. Additionally, I am not a database guru or network administrator, so the challenges for me a real and can generally take many hours to resolve. This doesn’t mean that the documentation on how to make the connections is totally lacking, it just means that someone new to the technology needs a little more help than someone who has more experience with the platform.
I first experienced this truth when I wrote about connecting to the Amazon Redshift big data platform, which was a new type of data connection for Tableau at that time. My working notes from that blog post have been viewed almost 1,800 times, which tells me that other people have experienced the same type of challenges that I had to overcome. For that reason, I decided that anytime I have to connect to a new type of data source in Tableau, I’m going to write about the experience to help others save some time.
Whenever you write a blog post about connecting to databases via a network, it isn’t really possible to handle every challenge that a user might experience. Every company has differences in how things are done and how files are stored and accessed. However, articles like this will help people because it outlines the steps needed to install the particular drivers necessary to make the data connection. The details of the server, the port, the database name, and the user log-in credentials are up to the user to obtain and understand. Furthermore, due to other complexities, this also means that blog posts like this one are living and breathing documents that may be subject to periodic updates as the technology changes or matures (or the author’s understanding of the system improves!).
Teradata Aster Databases
If you are reading this, you probably already have some idea what a Teradata Aster Database can represent. Figure 1 shows the Aster Database website. You can click on the picture to access the website for more information about Aster databases.
Connecting Tableau to Aster Files
My experience in creating this connection has been greatly aided by some knowledgeable partners (thanks Ben Pope, Giles Eke and others). For each of us, we had to try a few different things and spend a number of hours reading and researching technical notes to get this procedure to work. Because each machine we completed this procedure on was different, the drivers needed to complete the connections may have varied somewhat.
The procedure that I outline below was implemented on a plain-jane laptop that was devoid of a ODBC drivers and Aster drivers. I first tried this extensive, multi-step procedure outlined in this Tableau knowledge base article about installing Teradata drivers, but I was not able to complete the connection.
It might be necessary to do everything they want you to do in that knowledge base article, including running the three separate installation programs that they show. Go ahead and get ready to bang your head against the wall for a while because when you are finished, you probably still will not be able to connect Tableau to your Aster data files (at least I wasn’t able to).
Since I spent so much time trying what they suggested, I cannot be sure that the three step procedure I outline below will work for you without doing all the things they show in that knowledge base article. After a while, with all the installation steps completed, things get confusing and there may be some dependency on already-installed software. It could be that the knowledge base article needs to be updated or is missing a key step. However, I have determined a three step procedure that has now worked for me three times!
The Three Step Driver Installation Procedure
Here is the three-step procedure that worked for me after following the Tableau instructions. This procedure might be good enough by itself to install the drivers and successfully make the connection. These steps were determined with a lot of collaboration from Ben, Giles and others:
- Install some visual C++ pre-requisite files that are available from Microsoft. Click here to go to a blog that will provide download links (shown in green) to the needed pre-requisite file for you to choose from. These links are for the 2010 versions, whereas I just installed a 2008 version that was given to me. From what I understand, this installs certain re-distributable C++ files needed for this type of database connection. Your system might already have these files installed, so this step might be optional for some people.
- Install the ODBC suite (ODBC_Suite.zip), which is about 87 megabytes, and is available on this page in the DBQL Scripts section. If you think you are done at this point, which I did, you will find out that Tableau will not make the connection and you will get an error message like the one shown in Figure 2. To resolve that message, perform step 3 shown below. (This step seems like a potential repeat of what was outlined in the Tableau article).
- Install the Aster clients for Windows files from this page. You will have to scroll down the screen to find the appropriate file, which in my case was a 38 MB file called (AsterClients__windows_x8664.06.00.00.00.zip). This particular file is down below the most current release. The reason we picked the 6.00 version (38 Mb) instead of 6.02 version (10 Mb) is that once you unzip it, it has two installation files (AsterConnector_SSIS2008_x64.msi and nClusterODBCInstaller_x64.msi ) that theoretically does everything that is needed. If you run the first *.msi and don’t run the second *.msi file, you will get an error as shown in Figure 4 that tells you that the ODBC drivers are not installed. See Figure 3 for the sub directories where these *.msi files are located.
Once you complete this three-step process, you should be able to make a connection to an Aster database. How you use the data is up to you. Good luck surfing your big data.
For additional information on connecting and using Aster databases, click here for another Tableau knowledge base article. As shown in Figure 5, the Aster system is much more than just Aster databases. For more information on this Big Data Discovery Platform from Teradata, click here or on the picture shown below.