Introduction to Kafka Alternatives
In this article, we will discuss on Kafka Alternatives. The Apache Kafka is a distributed streaming platform that was originally developed by LinkedIn and then donated to Apache Foundation which also owns Apache Hadoop and Apache Solr among others under its foundation. Kafka basically is an open-source, stream processing platform written in Scala and Java, which is used to handle data feeds in real-time providing a unified, low latency and high throughput platform. A streaming platform basically has three major roles viz. Publish and subscribe to streams of records as they occur in real-time, store them and process them in real-time as they occur.
Kafka has a basic structure of a Producer, Kafka Clusters (Stream Processors and Connectors) and Consumers. Now, Distributed log technologies may seem similar to traditional broker messaging channels however they differ significantly architecturally and have varied and complex use case scenarios that differentiate various applications. However, due to some inherent disadvantages like issues with message tweaking, lack of pace and lacking some message paradigms among others, it becomes increasingly important to be aware of some alternatives to Apache Kafka like Rait MQ, AWS’s Kinesis, Microsoft Azure’s Event Hubs, etc. and in this article, we’ll briefly discuss some of them and their features and advantages over Apache Kafka.
Alternatives of Kafka
Below is the list of top-ranking alternatives of Kafka.
1. Amazon Kinesis
- One of the major flaws of Kafka is the need for human intervention to install and to maintain the streams. However, Kinesis breaks the streams across shards which are similar to partitions in Kafka and each shard has a hard limit on the number of transactions and data volume per second. You’ll need to increase the number of shards if you exceed that limit and this is where Kinesis distinguishes where AWS allows users to increase or scale their operations by only paying for what you use and thus much of the maintenance is hidden from the users.
- However, Kafka is more flexible and can be accustomed to what users need however the user needs to manage its own clusters and require DevOps resources to keep it running. Kinesis, on the other hand, is sold as a service by Amazon Web Services and doesn’t need a DevOps team to run it.
- Kinesis is more useful for functions like Stock Price tickers, Social Network Data (Although LinkedIn is entirely run on Kafka for streaming data), Geospatial data like connecting User users with Drivers and with IoT sensors.
- Choosing between the two again depends on the use cases and volume of data however Kinesis is a good place to start due to its speed and cost advantage as discussed. Some of the companies using AWS Kinesis are Amazon, Intuit, Accenture, Netflix Lyft and 500px.
It is a traditional message broker and also one of the first open-source message brokers to have reasonable levels of features. It was originally developed to implement AMQP protocol which is used for its powerful routing features. With the advent of the AMQP protocol, cross-language flexibility became possible for open source message brokers. It uses the Smart broker/Dum consumer approach to consistently deliver messages to consumers. It is mature and performs well if configured correctly and has a well-supported list of libraries like Java, .NET, node.js, Ruy, PHP and others along with countless plugins available. Although Kafka has some advantages like it includes the broker in the application and thus works effortlessly with streams processing, Rait MQ is used,
- It is used when the application needs to work on any combination of existing protocols like AMQP, STOMP, MQTT.
- If you need a more detailed control on a per-message basis. Meaning where the data volume is less and the user needs more control over it. Although, Kafka has added support for more control recently.
- The application needs more flexibility in point to point, Request/Reply messages.
- To integrate multiple services/apps with non-trivial routing logic.
- If you need more Security over-application as it provides support for plugins and APIs for the same. Also, it has better community support through various community plugins available for almost all possible scenarios.
- Some of the companies using RabbitMQ are Reddit, 9gag, Robinhood, Zapier, Myntra and MIT.
Although originally both Kafka and ActiveMQ were made for different operations completely, over time they’ve had many features that overlay each other and therefore they’re being used interchangeably and often used for the same purposes and compared with each other.
ActiveMQ is a general-purpose message broker like RaitMQ that supports several messaging protocols like AMQP, STOMP, and MQTT. Where it slightly distinguishes itself is the better support for Enterprise Integration Patterns. Therefore, in general, it is used for integration between applications or services.
Some of the key differences are:
- Allowing applications built with different languages and on different operating systems to integrate with each other
- Kafka producer doesn’t wait for acknowledgments from the broker which also increases the overall throughput if the broker can handle messages as fast as the producer sends them. ActiveMQ has to keep and maintain a delivery report of every message at every state. Thus, it has great recovery support where messages can be restored later if a queue fails.
- Kafka also has a better storage efficiency as in Kafka each message has an overhead of 9 bytes against that of 144 bytes in ActiveMQ. This increases the space used by ActiveMQ by 70% more than Kafka.
- ActiveMQ also pushes messages to consumers instead of consumers having to poll for new messages by doing a SQL Query which reduces the latency involved in processing new messages.
- It also has a great and rousts scheduler which means you can schedule messages to be delivered at a particular time.
- Some of the companies using ActiveMQ are Intuit, Awin, Zingat.
4. Apache Spark
- Spark is an open-source, distributed general-purpose, unified analytics engine that for large scale distributed data processing and ML. Apart from Core Data Processing, it has libraries for SQL, ML graph computation and Stream Processing. So, it offers much more than Kafka which only provides stream processing at its core.
- Spark processes streams of data in real-time as it is generated making it one of the fastest amongst the lot and thereby increasingly having use cases in fields like Financial Markets. Also, as data streams grow and its growing at an exponential rate, its ML capabilities become more feasible and accurate.
- It’s also easy to use and doesn’t require a preset DevOps team as it has easy APIs for operating on large datasets. It includes a collection of over 100 operators for transforming data and data frame APIs for manipulating semi-structured data.
- It also has an Interactive Analytics engine which enables users to have and project data in an engaging manner.
- However, many people would still prefer Kafka or better Kafka Streams for its relatively simple approach and thereby Spark is more of a use case for data scientists, and developers engaging in ML and Analytics over a simple message broker platform for their application.
5. Apache Storm
- The storm is more in line with Spark as it is primarily in Data. It’s an Open source, distributed Realtime computation system for streams of data similar to what Hadoop does for a batch of data. It also integrates with the queuing and database technologies.
- It also is extremely fast, reliable and fault-tolerant, processing over a million records per second per node on a cluster of modest size.
- because of its similar nature of that having varied use cases Storm like Spark is widely used in Financial, telecom, Retail, We and Manufacturing sectors.
Although there are countless other Kafka alternatives like Akka, Storm, Flink, etc. due to the overlay of features and some redundant features and also the entry of players like AWS and Google, it is increasingly important to focus on features and use cases instead of relying on single solutions provider.
This is a guide to Kafka Alternatives. Here we discuss the Introduction and Alternatives of Kafka which includes, Amazon Kinesis, RAITMQ, ActiveMQ, and Apache Spark in detail. You may also look at the following articles to learn more –