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Apache Kafka An Introduction to Distributed Streaming

By David Li on 2023-11-04T21:22:19.000Z

Apache Kafka: An Introduction to Distributed Streaming

Apache Kafka is a distributed streaming platform that enables high-throughput, fault-tolerant, and scalable data streaming. Developed by the Apache Software Foundation, Kafka is an open-source technology that has gained significant popularity for its ability to process large volumes of real-time data efficiently. In this article, we will explore the fundamentals of Apache Kafka, its architecture, and how it works.

What is Apache Kafka?

Kafka is a distributed publish-subscribe messaging system designed for high-throughput, fault-tolerance, and low-latency data streaming. It can handle millions of events per second, making it an excellent choice for real-time data processing in big data and streaming applications.

Kafka is often used in scenarios where traditional messaging systems, such as RabbitMQ or ActiveMQ, would not suffice due to their limitations in handling large-scale and high-throughput data streams. Some common use cases for Kafka include:

  • Log aggregation
  • Stream processing
  • Event sourcing
  • Data integration
  • Metrics collection

Kafka Architecture

The architecture of Apache Kafka consists of several components, including topics, producers, consumers, and brokers. These components work together to ensure high availability, fault tolerance, and scalability.


In Kafka, a topic is a category or feed name to which records are published. Topics are divided into a set of ordered, immutable partitions. Each partition is a sequence of records, where each record has a unique offset. Topics can be configured to maintain the data for a specified amount of time or until a particular size is reached.


Producers are Kafka clients that publish data to topics. They are responsible for choosing which partition to send a record to, typically using a round-robin approach or a custom partitioning strategy. Producers can also choose the level of durability they require, such as waiting for a specified number of replicas to acknowledge the write or not waiting for any acknowledgments.


Consumers are Kafka clients that read data from topics. They subscribe to one or more topics and consume records from the partitions in a distributed and parallel manner. Consumers maintain their position in the partition by storing the offset of the last consumed record. If a consumer fails, it can resume consumption from the last committed offset.


A broker is a Kafka server that stores and manages topics. Kafka brokers form a distributed system, known as a Kafka cluster. Each broker can handle multiple topic partitions and store replicas of these partitions for fault tolerance. Kafka brokers also handle client connections, balancing the load across the cluster.

Kafka Workflow

Here is a high-level overview of the Kafka workflow:

  1. Producers write records to Kafka topics by sending them to the appropriate broker.
  2. The broker stores the records in the corresponding partitions and replicates them across other brokers for fault tolerance.
  3. Consumers subscribe to topics and read records from the partitions, processing them as needed.


Apache Kafka has emerged as a leading distributed streaming platform, capable of processing millions of events per second. Its architecture, which consists of topics, producers, consumers, and brokers, ensures that it can deliver high-throughput, fault-tolerant, and scalable data streaming. Organizations are increasingly adopting Kafka for various use cases, such as log aggregation, stream processing, and data integration, to meet the growing demand for real-time data processing.

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