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OBIEE vs Tableau: Competitors or Complimentary?


OBIEE vs Tableau: Competitors or Complimentary?


It all started around 5 years back for me when I started to explore OBIEE for reporting.  Whole expertise that I had by then in OBIEE and I wasn't introduced to any BI reporting tool till then

10 months back, when for one of the client I was working for decided to opt for Tableau 10.3 with the assumption that they will start any new developments in Tableau even though OBIEE will remain live as it is, but gradually all the existing reports would be slowly migrated to Tableau, moving away from OBIEE (even though they will retain all the data model that is setup for Datawarehose that already exists).  We delivered pilot phase for this and this is still in progress but this made me interested to know (and ultimately train myself in Tableau) about what exactly this new reporting tool is, and I started to explore it via various learning modules available online as well as on COE of client. 

Initial Thought

I was under the impression that it would be just like BI Publisher and just to make reporting easier (which is also one of the goal), client wants to implement it over OBIEE.  But that didn't turn out to be the case. 

Pros and Cons

I won't go into technical details here but would like to do a pro versus cons analysis of OBIEE and Tableau from point of view of client, developer as well as a reporting user



Approximately 27 connectors including ODBC connectors.

70+ supported data sources via in built connectors along with Tableau Support.  Even more using ODBC connectors

Not easy to use for an organization or business users even if a minor change is needed immediately.  They will have to go via IT team

Once data model is ready, minor changes and even new derived columns can be easily published online within seconds

Any new table or data source can be connected as and when needed.

Not each and every data source can be brought into data model easily.  Custom SQL can be used but can't be tuned for performance improvement as Tableau server doesn't handle SQL performance of custom SQls

Has strong component of BMM layer and is a unique feature of this tool

All the circular joins should be handled in the physical data model only.  No scope (apart from data blending at the cost of ) of joins at the later stage other than data model

Map viewer is difficult to implement and manage.  Moreover needs a separate setup

Has inbuilt visualization of Maps with one click implementation.  Has ability to draw custom maps as well using geo spatial data

Has a few analytics functions viz. PERIODROLLING, AGO etc. but they do come at the cost of performance degradation.

Has very efficient Window functions that can help to use derived columns as a data source at run time of visualization

Oracle is now ending support of non-Oracle ETL tools which is a kind of restriction

Any ETL tool can be used

Out of the Box are valuable if you want to use one of the provided data model

No Out of the Box data model is provided

Total License Cost for Enterprise Edition is $51800 without any Support and user access (based on latest cost sheet from Oracle)

Cost for professional edition including Client and Server is $1260  per user per year including support(with yearly billing)

Product crashes with not so sure error messages

Quite stable tool and very rare issues.  Has very detailed error and exception handling

Can handle and manager large business models very easily

Large data models should be kept offline manually unless published online

No predictive analytics

Has inbuilt capability of predictive analytics and integration to R language


As it is quite clear about the advantages of Tableau over OBIEE, we can conclude the reason why Tableau took over OBIEE in last 5 consecutive years as a leader.


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Even though both the tools are being compared, but if a new organization is about to opt for a BI tool, it should start from Tableau and can outline its BI needs.  If it feels that business needs are too large to be handled by Tableau, it can bring in OBIEE as well.  Both the tools can co-exist as well and would be a great advantage to the organization.  Business users do feel Tableau to be an easy to use tool (where ad hoc reporting can be done very easily using offline files as well).

However Tableau has an added advantage of Predictive Analysis and can connect to powerful R Studio that isn't even a feature in OBIEE.  Oracle has it but as a part of separate predictive analysis tool which is a costly affair.

We can't say that both the tools are competitors but do complement each other in many ways.  While we don't need too much of technical know-how about Tableau architecture to work on it, OBIEE does need support from IT team that is well aware about the architecture which makes Tableau a better solution where most of the users are not too familiar to use OBIEE.

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