what is apache kafka?

Courting Apache Kafka: A Beginner’s Guide To Mastering The Platform

by | 26.09.2021 | Engineering

Who would have ever thought that a surreal writer from yesteryears would also become associated with computing? Literature enthusiasts might be aware of Franz Kafka and his impact on the world of reading, encompassing an entire word referencing his style of works (Kafkaesque).

But today, we’re going to talk about a different Kafka. Apache Kafka is a community distributed event streaming platform with the power to take on a multitude of requests and events each moment. The platform was designed as a messaging queue resembling a system like Amazon’s SQS or SNS. Kafka uses a network of distributed commit logs and was designed by Linkedin in 2011. Since then it has become an open source platform commonly used for website message handling, communication management and most importantly queue servicing. It even began supporting other events as time went on.

What is Apache Kafka?

Apache Kafka uses a great network of utilization cases and serves data management frameworks for situations that demand considerable throughput, solid conveyance, and level versatility. Normal functions and cases that can be conducted include:

What is Apache Kafka?

Events in Kafka Source: Kafka
  • Measurements Collection and Monitoring
  • Log Aggregation
  • Stream Processing
  • Site Activity Tracking

Users can also use the platform to run and scale up normal applications on multiple machines while deploying event management tools at the same time. Much of this is handled by Kafka Streams that utilizes many of the platform’s multitasking functions. Kafka Stream is also highly invulnerable to queueing blockages and server errors. 

Setting up a simple database in Kafka Source: Kafka

What Exactly Is A Stream?

  • Kafka utilizes a stream processing topology to perform major operations for handling messages and events. A stream is the most essential function given by Kafka and can be described as an arranged, replayable, and fault tolerant succession of immutable information records. Each event in the stream and each record is defined by a primary key and index.
  • A stream application in this case is any program that makes use of the Kafka Streams library. Most of this is done with a single processor topology that consists of stream processors (hubs) that are associated by streams (edges).
  • A stream processor is the central hub of the architecture that accepts one information instance at a time and creates a record for the upstream processors in the topology. All changes that are applied to the hub are also copied to the rest of the streams. This is another important element of polymorphic changes. The same operations can also be applied downstream to the rest of the nodes.
App structure and topology: Knoldus

Topology and Design: Why It Matters

The eternal question of whether its best to have a SQL or NoSQL database management system will continue to rage on for several years. It is however important to understand that there is no single clear solution to the best topologies or architectures for dealing with data streams. In the case for Kafka, a stream processor can be visualized as a source processor that has additional upstream processors. It delivers an information stream to its topology from one or various Kafka subjects by transferring these records from streams and then straight to the down-stream processors.

Here’s a bit of tidbit, a sink processor is the opposite of a source processor that lacks down-stream processors (as opposed to the former which lack upstream processors). It sends any got records from its up-stream processors to a predetermined Kafka node.

Note that in ordinary processor hubs other remote frameworks can likewise be reached while handling the present record. Consequently, the handled outcomes can either be spilt once again into Kafka or kept in touch with an outer framework.

Why Kafka Is A Game Changer?


Advantage of Kafka Source: Kafka

Kafka runs on a tightly built framework that eliminates a number of the pesky issues that are common with Big Data. Everything from data wrangling to datatype confusions and transmutations become a thing of the past. It has become a favourite for tech companies mainly due to a number of factors.

Detail for Execution

Kafka has high throughput for both distributing and consolidating data for several machines and smaller platforms. It also supports a multitude of languages for easier adoption.

Adjusting Time & Resources Needed for Deployment

As data grows larger and more complex, resource distribution can become far more challenging. Kafka helps users manage these needs using the same topological architecture to keep a clear control on the network.

Windowing are characterized in view of time limits

The ‘windowing’ process is related to the amount of resources required to run messages for streams, much of which is dependent on the time limits for handling queueing systems.

Versatility & Scaleup

Conveyed frameworks can be scaled and deployed with little to no downtime. They can be shut off on the user’s needs and turned back on with no interferences.

Solidness And Memory

Kafka has a unique queuing system that helps users to play around with streaming needs and deploying messages to as many networks as possible, minus the holdup and backlog issues.

Unwavering quality

The platform seamlessly repeats information, underpins different supporters, and naturally adjusts purchasers if there should be an occurrence of errors.

Digging Deeper: What’s Inside A Typical Kafka API


Kafka API Breakdown Source: Cloudurable

Abnormal state DSL

The abnormal state DSL (Domain Specific Language) built on top of the Stream processor API  contains officially tested strategies prepared to utilize classes and cases recommended for beginners and helpful for most data processing operations. It is further composed of two fundamental components: KStream and KTable or GlobalKTable.


A KStream is an image or saved data record of an instance stream where every data entry is a basic key combined in the form of an unbounded dataset. It has important functions for streaming and manipulation such as outline, mapValue, flatMap, flatMapValues and table.

KStream is also a familiar tool used for joining and combining larger datasets, without causing cross join issues or value mapping errors. Somewhat similar to the crosstab functions from Tableau

KTable or GlobalKTable

A KTable, in simpler terms, is a log file with metadata about the instance streams.

In a typical changelog, each data record is viewed as an Insert or Update (Upsert) contingent on the presence of the primary key as any current column with a similar key will be overwritten.

Processor API

  • The low-level Processor API gives access control to communicate with both upstream and downstream nodes and streams.
  • The API is further composed of an AbstractProcessor, which contains important information about datasets and the classes populated by them.
  • While the abnormal state DSL helps in documenting strategies for data joins and processing, the API serves as a command console to make important changes and view updates as per the user’s demands and needs.
  • All communication is made through console coding with some functionalities for GUI interactions on the main platform.
Kafka API Breakdown Source: Viewdress

Where Things Get Less Pleasant: Disadvantages

Apache Kafka, despite its prolonged usage and presence in the industry, does not have any additions for monitoring streams. While KSQL and other functionalities allow for streamlined management, monitoring on the fly is still something to be implemented. Based on what we’ve seen in the process of matching topic selections in the previous sections, Kafka does not have any methods for supporting wildcard topics.

In simpler terms, Kafka can only match data record instances to the exact topic name alone. Lack of documentation on the subject of handling data overloading also results in cases of the platform behaving strangely and causing unexpected errors. Users may find solace with the community suggestions on StackOverflow but it’s still a hassle for industries that need servers running on the go.

Given the fact that Kafka runs primarily using system calls, the platform is ineffective in cases when the messages or data instances need to be changed, as transfers and deployment take place. Particular messaging systems such as point-to-point queues, request/reply, etc. are missing in Kafka for some use cases.

Closing on Kafka: Verdict and Final Words

Kafka is still a neat framework to include for database management and stream servicing, regardless of all its pitfalls and technical gaps. It is a regular client based tool for applications such as JMS (Java Message Service) and AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol), given its higher throughput, unwavering quality and replication.

Kafka works in tandem with its other applications, including Apache Storm, Apache HBase and Apache Spark for streaming data on time and scaling messaging systems. It’s even compatible working with GIS data and has been touted as a great tool for dealing with deep learning projects that require geospatial analysis. 

As always, a great first step to learning more about such platforms is from their direct documentation websites. Take a gander through the web and tune in for the next articles as we uncover another misunderstood or rarely touched upon application. Feel free to read more from us here and reach out to us if you need our help implementing Kafka.

Happy Learning!


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