Updated April 2021
In this post we will compare Apache Kafka and the Confluent Kafka Platform, describing what they have in common and what sets them apart.
What is Confluent Kafka and Apache Kafka?
Apache Kafka is an open source message broker that provides high throughput, high availability, and low latency. Apache Kafka can be used either on its own or with the additional technology from Confluent.
Confluent Kafka provides additional technologies that sit on top of Apache Kafka. Some of Confluent Kafka’s offerings are free under the Confluent Community License, and some are only available through Confluent’s enterprise license.
Is Apache Kafka free?
Apache Kafka is free and open source. It is available under Apache 2.0.
Is Confluent Kafka free?
The Confluent Kafka Platform is free to download and use under the Confluent Community License. Unlike Apache Kafka which is available under the Apache 2.0 license, the Confluent Community License is not open source and has a few restrictions.
For instance, the Confluent Community License states the following restriction, “Excluded Purpose is making available any software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service or other similar online service that competes with Confluent products or services that provide the Software.”
Despite these added limitations, some companies prefer to use the Confluent Kafka Platform because it offers additional features not available with the core Apache Kafka product. Examples of technology included in the Confluent Community License are pre-built connectors, ksqlDB, REST Proxy, and Schema Registry.
Beyond the free to use Confluent Community License technology, Confluent also has a fee-based enterprise license that includes additional pre-built connectors and other tools. More information can be found here, https://www.confluent.io/confluent-community-license-faq/.
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