Insight Blog

Exasol vs Tableau Extracts – want to see how Exasol blows TDEs out of the water?

A Tableau Data Extract was used in this year’s Iron Viz competition, which added a small but significant additional challenge to the task.

Each year at Tableau’s global conference (TC), a visualization competition is held called the Iron Viz Championship (#ironviz) and it’s one of the highlights for many conference attendees. Three participants who were chosen over the course of the year through competitions go head-to-head to create the most impactful, visually appealing data visualization within 20 minutes – all on a stage in front of a live audience of thousands of people with the event being broadcast across the Internet to thousands more.

Contestants have a few days beforehand to familiarize themselves with the data and develop a story which they will then have to reproduce on stage. The technical skill level of the three finalists is exceptionally high and the techniques shown on stage often typically leave the audience in awe.

This year at TC16, Tableau chose to use New York City taxi trip data in the competition. The dataset contained 150 million rows of data for taxi trips taken in 2014. The original dataset goes all the way back to 2009 and sits at around 1.3 billion rows of data (2009 – 2016). A Tableau Data Extract was used in this year’s Iron Viz competition, which added a small but significant additional challenge to the task. Speaking to Robert Rouse, consultant at our partner Interworks and 2016 Iron Viz finalist, we were told that the download and subsequent load into Tableau Desktop of the data extract took a significant amount of time, but the major risk was saving the workbook during the competition, because this process would have taken 3 minutes, or around 15% of the total time contestants had to finish their visualization. Clearly, this was not an option. So Robert chose to not save his work until the time was up. Of course, that’s quite a gamble but a 3-minute buffering-type symbol denoting that the viz was being saved would have probably been a bigger risk, especially with so many eyes watching.

At Exasol we have used the same NYC taxi dataset for a number of customer demonstrations and have enjoyed visualizing the 1.3 billion data points in Tableau to find insights and interesting stories. So when Robert suggested we run a live demo on Exasol to show what he ‘would have done with all the data and a really fast database’, we were keen to help!

The day after the Iron Viz competition, Robert came to the Exasol booth and showed a live demo of his Iron Viz NYC Taxi visualization using ALL the data and our underlying database for super-fast performance. With an interested audience in the expo hall and a number of discussions following Robert’s presentation, Interworks decided to run a webinar to ensure others could learn more about the difference between using a Tableau Data Extract versus a live connections to an analytic database.

Watch the recorded webinar

Interworks recorded their webinar and have now made it available for viewing on their website. If you are interested in watching it, head over to

And if you want to give Exasol a spin, download a copy of the Free Small Business Edition today.