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How organisations manage their upgrade schedule will vary for a variety of reasons - size of organisation, resource availabilty, attitude to risk, potential impact/disruption to business, benefits of upgrade.
I work for a company with approx 2000 employees and we have a single server with core licensing, which means everyone has the potential to access content on the server. We're currently on v10.1.1 having last upgraded in Jan 2017. Prior to that we'd upgraded in Aug 2015. I'm in the process of planning an upgrade now and was hoping it would have been done in Feb, but that's now unlikely to happen due to other demands on my time, and the availability of others. I'm hopeful it will still be done this year, but there are limited windows of opportunity due to the reliance the business has on the server at key times throughout the calendar year. Whilst we have had a proven track record of upgrading the server smoothly, any upgrade always comes with a risk that the upgrade may not go as planned meaning reports may not be available/work as expected.
As a company we're also 'risk averse' so will always wait until there's a minor point release following a major release eg we'd wait for v10.5.1 rather than v10.5.0. However knowing Tableau's regular release schedule, we know this is never that far away, so can start the planning before then.
Whilst there are a multitude of additional features we could benefit from between our version and the latest version, there is nothing so significant that the business are shouting loudly enough for, to raise the priority of a Tableau upgrade against the variety of other projects my department is involved with.
Other organisations may have more prescribed schedules - an upgrade every 6 months say; smaller organisations may not have as many 'parties' involved in the upgrade that need agreement to the timing etc etc
I hope this gives you an idea that there isn't a 'one size fits all'.
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I agree w/Donna, there is no one single solution, no "best practice".
I'm the Tableau administrator for the NAFTA portion of our company, though my server is open to the ROTW (Rest Of The World) and does get used by them on occasion. We have core-based licensing, over 5200 registered users (but about 1/3 actually have signed in), and 870 workbooks. I come from a software background so I like the latest-and-greatest However, I tend to shy away from x.0 versions, preferring x.1 versions since "you never buy the first model year of a vehicle" (unless it's a classic Ducati or Volkswagen, then all logic goes out the door and you are faced with some serious wife-explaining ).
Because there are some other teams involved that "package" the Tableau Desktop software for a push-deployment to end users my speed of implementation is typically delayed 2-8 weeks So while I and a handful of super-users can test the software, my users won't get the newest version until a month or two later. I also look at what the new version provides (fixes & features) and consult with my super-users to determine if the version is even worth upgrading to. For example, we're on version 10.3.5 but our next upgrade will be 10.5.x, totally skipping 10.4 as we saw no real benefits with it for us. Now I'm talking major version changes here. Minor version changes will be installed if it fixes a security issue or issue that users are experiencing, is known by Tableau, and the recommendation is a minor version upgrade -- I think I've only done this twice in the last 5 years so it's pretty rare, Tableau does a good job with their software overall. Why are we on 10.3.5? Well, we were on 10.3.1 as that was the latest version when it came time to upgrade to 10.3. Later, I had some driver updates and in preparation for migrating to a 2-node environment I took the opportunity to upgrade to 10.3.5 It's rare this happens but take advantage of the opportunity when you can.
Compared to the rest of the Tableau Servers used by various groups in other child-companies, we are the fastest moving. We are often on the latest major version and always one to two minor versions ahead of the other groups. Also, because Tableau is such a time-saver, so easy to use, and a part of our enterprise reporting products, it's my end users that, well, pester me when Tableau has upgrades! I like the fact that they contact me when new stuff comes out and their eagerness to get things upgraded...like, NOW! So that's another reason why I like to get the latest version out, to keep my customers happy and productive.
It will be up to you and working with your company policies on how often you upgrade.
Great explanation. Thank you !
Got a clear picture of that.