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Asking your managers to switch (or even, invest the trouble of running it in parallel) from a supported solution they've paid good money for to something unknown and not officially supported, built by two volunteers, is asking a lot. I can speak as to why I like VizAlerts but it would be in a vacuum--I don't know enough about Metric Insights to say that their product couldn't do the same. Most people who have tried VizAlerts rather than Metric Insights seem to gravitate to VizAlerts primarily because it is free.
What is it that you hope to achieve that you think VizAlerts will allow you to do, that Metric Insights will not?
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I'm one of the contributors to VizAlerts and I don't know anything about Metric Insights other than what I've read on their web pages, so here's a comparison from what I've found out. My interest is for organizations using Tableau to get the data and insights out to the users who need it so I'm not trying to "sell" VizAlerts or Metric Insights, I'd rather you have the sytem that meets your requirements. Therefore I'll be as honest as I can be. If there's anyone from Metric Insights or who has experience with Metric Insights who wants to comment I'd be glad to hear from them and correct any misunderstandings I have.
Support & Organization
- VizAlerts is an open source project with only a few contributors.
- Metric Insights has between 51 and 200 employees according to LinkedIn, they've got investors behind them, they are a Tableau partner, etc.
- VizAlerts was designed to scratch a particular itch around alerting and reporting from Tableau.
- Metric Insights is a more generalized KPI and reporting platform that integrates with dozens of data sources and other BI tools.
- VizAlerts is at version 1.1
- Metric Insights is at v4.0.
- VizAlerts is free, open source software, and uses some open-source Python libraries (with the potential headaches that using OSS can create).
- Metric Insights costs $$, I don't know how much.
- VizAlerts can run on the Tableau Server, a desktop machine, or anything in-between. Note that VizAlerts currently only connects to Tableau Server, not Tableau Online.
- Metric Insights requires a separate server, though it can run as SAAS. I don't know if Metric Insights can connect to Tableau Online or not.
- Since VizAlerts is rendering views from Tableau Server it's going to act like another user on Tableau Server. Also VizAlerts is single-threaded at this time, it's possible to set up separate processes to run in parallel but that takes extra work to configure. So far the largest deployments of VizAlerts that I know of have 100+ active alerts and 200+ recipients.
- Metric Insights is pulling data from Tableau Server (to determine the alerts) and not necessarily entire graphical Tableau views so it may not put so much load on Tableau Server. I don't know more than that about scaling Metric Insights.
Installation & Configuration Experience
- VizAlerts is a set of Python scripts that leverages Tableau as much as it can. It's possible to have VizAlerts up and running in under 1/2 hour, though (I tested it on a fresh machine and the longest part was waiting for a reboot of Tableau Server to give VizAlerts permissions to download views). However, setting up advanced alerts requires a certain amount of typing and testing.
- Metric Insights looks like it has an installer and the configuration screens I've seen are much more mouse-driven.
- VizAlerts uses Tableau views and filters. It's possible to be very fine-grained about what alert recipients see for each alert, including user-level filtering. VizAlerts can combine multiple worksheets and dashboards from multiple workbooks into a single alert.
- Metric Insights requires that Tableau views to be used for generating alert thresholds be set up to be pulled as .CSV's into the KPI library, then alerts are built from the library. The alert itself could contain a Metric Insight view of the data or refer to a Tableau view (maybe views?). So users have to learn a separate piece of software to understand how to build the alerts.
Configuring Who Gets the Alerts
- VizAlerts uses Tableau's built-in subscriptions for basic alerts, however making full use of advanced alerting capabilities does require some sort of data source to determine who gets what, it could be as simple as a text file or a full-on database. Also since Tableau's Schedules are used there's some user training required around permissioning in enterprises to make sure that individual alert schedules don't get overloaded.
- Metric Insights stores the subscription information itself and has user interfaces for configuring who gets delivery of an alert. It does look like if you have user-level filtering in Tableau and want to deliver a user-level filter view from Metric Insights then you'd have to implement that user-level filtering in Metric Insights, meaning it would have to be built in two places.
- VizAlerts uses HTML for formatting so it's anything you can imagine (and the work it takes to create your imagination).
- Metric Insights looks to have a standard template, I don't know what customization options are available. Also Metric Insights through its KPI dashboard can batch a set of alerts (from entirely different systems) into a single email, to do that in Tableau would require building an equivalent dashboard.
- VizAlerts can email CSV, PDF, and PNG. There's also code checked in for file delivery (think dropping a file onto a network share) and integration with the Twilio messaging service, but that hasn't been released yet.
- It looks like Metric Insights's delivery is mostly about sending images (PNG?) through email.
- VizAlerts doesn't have any collaboration features.
- Metric Insights has a user portal where there are comments, a newsfeed, you can see who else is looking at a dashboard, etc. It looks like alerts can be set up to be triggered based on comments. Theoretically this kind of thing could be built into VizAlerts but that's in the category of "it's open source, anybody can build on it."
This has been extremely helpful and we appreciate all your contributions to VizAlert!
We have not invested too much into Metric Insights yet and are still in the POC phases of VizAlert but we are gravitating towards the 'free' aspect. Thank you Matt!
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I work for Metric Insights. Jonathan thank you for your clear comparison of the two tools. I would reiterate at a high level, that Metric Insights is a separate platform that tracks changes in all your Metrics, from any data source, uncovers anomalies, determines who should know about those changes, and distributes relevant information to the right people, on the right device, at the right time. The general premise of Metric Insights, in addition to providing alerting capabilities, is to use the platform to help users focus on the metrics, reports and dashboards that are changing significantly and require their attention right now, without having to individually setup a whole lot of rules and thresholds.
A couple of points of clarification on Jonathan’s post:
- Metric Insights runs on-premise or in the cloud.
- We do connect to both Tableau Server and Tableau Online (and have many plugins and generic connectors).
- We can distribute content in multiple formats (not just images)….so PDF, Excel, Powerpoint etc
- We distribute notifications and alerts in multiple formats and to multiple devices - e.g. email, phone apps, phone alert tray, wearables such as the Apple Watch, our portal news feed etc.
- We can also customize the output of your emails via a template system and combine results from all your systems into a single message.
- We can drive custom scripts that integrate with other applications - e.g. fire off a workflow that opens a support ticket based on the result of an alert
- As well as obviously centrally administering your rules and alerts, you can give your users the ability to create their own alert criteria, and share those rules with other users, through simple wizards.
- As Jonathan identified, there is a social aspect to the platform, that allows users to collaborate and follow each other, helping add additional context to data.
- We typically work with some very large enterprises and the platform scales to support thousands of users with rules triggering anywhere from daily for some metrics all the way down to more mission critical minute by minute alerts, which, as you can imagine, requires that we have a robust permissions and distribution rule capabilities.
Obviously, like VizAlerts, there’s a lot of capabilities in our platform beyond what’s documented here…happy to answer questions here, or demo to people if they would like more details!
Thanks for the clarifications, Mike!
Thanks for this, Mike! I’m glad that Metric Insights has a variety of delivery options & formats, that’s good to know.