What Is Kafka? All You Need to Know! (2021)

Ajay Ohri
  1. Why is Kafka So Fast?
  2. What Is Kafka?
  3. Why Kafka? 
  4. What Is Kafka Used For?
  5. Why Is Kafka So Popular?

1. Why is Kafka So Fast?

A feature like Apache Kafka’s dependency on the OS kernel to move around the data quickly makes it fast. The fact that it also relies on the zero-copy principle while giving the user the capacity to record the data chunks into batches. The data can then be seen from producer to file system, therefore end-to-end method. 

The batching system in Kafka enables faster and efficient data compression, thus reducing the I/O latency. Kafka furthermore writes, commit log that is immutable to the disk in a sequential process. The process helps in avoiding disk access randomly and therefore thwarting the slow disk seeking process. 

Furthermore, it also shards a topic log into possibly a thousand partitions into multiple servers. This allows Kafka to handle an extensive load of data.  

Kafka is used for streaming the data. It is extensively used in streaming architecture. The solution allows the decoupling of the real-time data pipelines as it is in the middle layer. The features of Kafka are not that good for direct computation. But it is extremely useful for fast lane feeding systems in real-time and the operational data system. 

With Kafka feeding the Hadoop, it helps stream the big data into the big data platforms like Sparks, Cassandra, RDBMS, and S3, to name a few for conducting data analysis in the future. Before, the datastores allow the user to support and conduct data science crunching, reporting, analysis, compliance auditing and even perform backups. 

2. What Is Kafka?

Kafka is a streaming platform used to distribute to publish, and subscribe to a plethora of records. It is a system that replicates the log partitions topically to multiple servers and is used for storage that is fault-tolerant. Kafka’s design is to allow the recording of processing of the apps as they perform and function. Apache Kafka efficiently and effectively uses IO by compressing and batching the records. It furthermore also decouples the data streams. Kafka is used for data streaming in data lakes, real-time streaming, applications, and analytics systems. 

It also uses a wire protocol to communicate between clients and servers over TCP. Kafka is compatible with older languages that ensure mainten. Are you hearing about Kafka for the first time? You might then think what is Kafka? This article will give you an overview about it. But before we go into depth, we need to consider that Kafka is becoming one of the dominant software platforms. It is being used by a wide range of companies across all industries.

All the companies that are using Kafka are among the top 10 in their fields. The usage of Kafka ranges from insurance and banks to telecom, travel. Even though first used by LinkedIn, it is now used by Microsoft and Netflix. Even among the Fortune 500 companies, Kafka is a leading software platform. 

Over the years, several frameworks, platforms, and technologies have been developed like Hadoop, Tensorflow, Spark, and Python that processes Big Data, to name a few. The purpose was to learn from the ever-growing data while handling them for the business. Kafka is a part of this group that enables extensive data processing. The platform allows the processing of data that can be overwhelming for other platforms. It is an engine designed to process the information in real-time and at a high-speed. The engine, thus, enables the working of AI and Big Data.

There are several Big Data processing frameworks and platforms available in the market. Yet, Kafka has become a dominant one across the industries. So, the question remains – why has Apache Kafka become so significant? 

3. Why Kafka? 

Kafka was initially built at LinkedIn for the distributed messaging system by Apache. It was written in Scala and Java, now owned by Apache Software Foundation. Messaging systems like ActiveMQ, RabbitMQ, and AMQP are there in the market. Yet Kafka is opted for in situations where the former platforms are not responsive enough. These messaging systems fall short with the handling of an extensive volume of data like Kafka.  

Data architectures use Kafka for its real-time streaming capacity offering the user to avail real-time analytics. 

Several other factors offer the answer to the question – what is Apache Kafka’s demand in the market for?

  • Performance

Even with modest hardware Kafka’s server can handle over four comma messages a day from thousands of clients. Microsoft Published research stating Kafka consumed 22,000 messages per second while publishing 500,000 messages each second. 

  • Scalable

The multiple partition capacity of Kafka enables it to balance the load and to order guarantee along with the option of consumer grouping. These aspects allow Kafka to scale better. 

  • Distributed by default

The software’s cluster-centric design with the in-built partitioning system allows it to have a thoroughly distributing feature from the ground up. The clusters have multiple servers that can be put across several data centers, regions, and time zones. This ensures even in case of a disaster. It can keep on running. 

  • Replication

Apache Kafka has been designed with replication as a default behaviour. This warrants the resilience of the software towards the messages. The fact that the partitions can be replicated across the server’s configurable number ensures that the fault can be easily replaced even with a partition failure. 

  • Durable

The parameters for the messages are configurable depending based on the topics. One can decide to keep the messages forever, for a specific time frame or the partition’s total size. 

  • Guaranteed Order Messages

Kafka delivers the messages within a partition rather than having it done asynchronously, thus ensuring it never gets delivered to different customers. 

With these features in place, Kafka becomes useful in call tracking or IoT sensor data tracking. The software platform also works exceptionally well with Spark, Spark Streaming, HBase, Flume/Flafka, Storm, and Flink for real-time analysis, ingesting, and processing the data streamed. 

Kafka Hadoop has also become very popular with the software being used to feed the BigData lakes of Hadoop. This is because Kafka servers or brokers support a message stream of extensive quantity even with low-latency follow-up for both Hadoop and Spark’s BigData analysis. 

4. What Is Kafka Used For?

Kafka’s ability to stream, track web activity, monitor and do metrics collection, and log aggregation in real-time and the features mentioned above make it a high in demand product across the industries. 

  • Real Time data processing

The real-time analytics of Kafka facilitates the use of IoT devices. It helps with constant analysis of the streams with predictive maintenance models. This allows for the immediate trigger when there is any deviation. 

  • Website tracking

Site activity can be tracked with Kafka in real-time publish-subscribe feeds. This helps rebuild the user activity and can be availed for many cases like real-time monitoring, processing, connecting with Hadoop, and offline data warehousing. 

  • Metrics

Operational data is monitored with Kafka. The data can be aggregated from several applications to get a centralized feed of the data. 

  • Log Aggregation

Apache Kafka helps the user get a clear picture of the log. Log aggregation is an abstract form that is collected and put in the central processing place. The process allows easy support for multiple sources of data and distributed consumption. 

  • Stream Processing

Kafka is used to processing data across several pipelines. Raw data is consumed, enriched, aggregated, and transformed into new topics for follow-up processes or consumptions.  

  • Event Sourcing

Stage changes can be logged as per the time-ordered by sequences. Kafka allows storage of large log data, which is exceptional for backend applications. 

  • Commit Log

For the distributed system, Kafka can use server external commit log. This can be replicated between acts and nodes as a re-syncing mechanism.

5. Why Is Kafka So Popular?

The operational simplicity with excellent performance has led to its popularity. The easy-to-set-up software platform with user-friendly efficiency and the right training have made it a dominant technology. So, if the question arises, what is Kafka’s reason for the popularity? The answer is its stable framework backed with durability. The flexibility offered with publish-subscribing and queueing makes it scalable. 

Moreover, it can naturally group messages, which can be of N-number. This reduces the overhead cost of the network. The robust replication process, which is Kafka’s central feature, ensures that producers have consistency with the data. It also ascertains that there is no data loss even in case of malfunctioning of a server. This is possible with the preserved ordering facility at the shared level. 

It also works well with the data stream systems that can be processed. It further enhances the aggregated system, transforming it and then loading it into other stores. But all these features would have been useless if Kafka was a slow program.

Despite the large quantity of the data, Kafka can process them without any down-time. With the right content creator and consumer code, the program can support an extensive number of consumers. It also can retain a large size of data without burning the overhead cost.

Kafka helps in capturing the data. In today’s business, data is crucial to analyze them correctly to stay ahead of the competitors and relevant in the market. Hence, when the question of what ance with older clients. Some of them are Java, C#, C, Python, etc. The ecosystem on which Kafka is made allows REST proxy, and it is easy to integrate with JSON and HTTP. 

Kafka’s support for Avro schemas enables it to have complex records produced and can be read by the clients. It can be read in multiple programming languages, which further allows the evolution of the program. The Avro schemas are done through the Confluent Schema Registry for Kafka. 

Wrapping it up

Over time Kafka has proved to be immensely helpful to industries as it allows to build the real-time streaming solution for data pipelines. It furthermore allows in-memory microservices for actors like Qbit, reactive, reactors, Spring Reactor, to name a few. With Kafka, you can build a real-time streaming application that can help you to conduct real-time analytics of the data and enable you to react, transform, aggregate, and join the real-time flow of the data to perform complex event processes.  

Kafka can be used to gather KPI and metrics to aggregate the statistics from a variety of sources and even implement them in event sourcing. It can be used together with microservices and actor systems to apply in-memory services. Kafka can further be used for replicating data to re-sync them to nodes, between nodes, and restore them to their previous state. 

While Kafka is used for real-time data analytics, streaming, and messaging purposes, it can be used for audit trails, click-streaming tracking, log aggregation, to name a few. Apache Kafka has an extensive range of applications, which any business will benefit by implementing.

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