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Is Kafka a message queue?

Updated August 2023

Apache Kafka is not a traditional message queue. Kafka is a free to use, distributed messaging system that includes components of both a message queue and a publish-subscribe model.  

Kafka improves on the deficit of each of those traditional approaches allowing it to provide fault tolerant, high throughput stream processing. 

Traditional shared message queues are limited because messages are removed from the queue after a single consumer reads it.  This approach isn’t compatible with building highly scalable systems.

Kafka uses consumer groups and broker retention to combine the two models of the message queue and publish-subscribe to create a more scalable and reliable approach to message processing. 

You can learn more about how Kafka using consumer groups for scaling event streaming here.

And check out our article on optimizing Kafka brokers to learn how to improve performance.

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Published by

Dattell - Kafka & Elasticsearch Support

Benefit from the experience of our Kafka, Pulsar, Elasticsearch, and OpenSearch expert services to help your team deploy and maintain high-performance platforms that scale. We support Kafka, Elasticsearch, and OpenSearch both on-prem and in the cloud, whether on stand alone clusters or running within Kubernetes. We’ve saved our clients $100M+ over the past six years. Without our guidance companies tend to overspend on hardware or purchase unnecessary licenses. We typically save clients multiples more money than our fees cost in addition to building, optimizing, and supporting fault-tolerant, highly available architectures.