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Tableau Server is pre-packaged with certain versions of the bits we need and use. While it might run with versions other than what we install, it wouldn't be supported that way. You'd also put the installation itself outside of support the moment you start hacking at it like this. I'd just leave this alone in your shoes
Christopher - thanks for your answer, that's what I guessed.
Still, you can (I just did) install jdk 1.7 alongside Server and kick off JMC.
One very useful point here is that via tabadmin you can enable JMX services, and then point JMC to those to gather stats, which helps enormously in understanding if all is well inside the engine, really, if you have problems.
It'd be nice to know how to enable tomcat db connection pool usage tracking via this method.