Airflow vs Kafka: What are the differences?
Developers describe Airflow as "A platform to programmaticaly author, schedule and monitor data pipelines, by Airbnb". Use Airflow to author workflows as directed acyclic graphs (DAGs) of tasks. The Airflow scheduler executes your tasks on an array of workers while following the specified dependencies. Rich command lines utilities makes performing complex surgeries on DAGs a snap. The rich user interface makes it easy to visualize pipelines running in production, monitor progress and troubleshoot issues when needed. On the other hand, Kafka is detailed as "Distributed, fault tolerant, high throughput pub-sub messaging system". Kafka is a distributed, partitioned, replicated commit log service. It provides the functionality of a messaging system, but with a unique design.
Airflow belongs to "Workflow Manager" category of the tech stack, while Kafka can be primarily classified under "Message Queue".
Some of the features offered by Airflow are:
- Dynamic: Airflow pipelines are configuration as code (Python), allowing for dynamic pipeline generation. This allows for writting code that instantiate pipelines dynamically.
- Extensible: Easily define your own operators, executors and extend the library so that it fits the level of abstraction that suits your environment.
- Elegant: Airflow pipelines are lean and explicit. Parameterizing your scripts is built in the core of Airflow using powerful Jinja templating engine.
On the other hand, Kafka provides the following key features:
- Written at LinkedIn in Scala
- Used by LinkedIn to offload processing of all page and other views
- Defaults to using persistence, uses OS disk cache for hot data (has higher throughput then any of the above having persistence enabled)
Airflow and Kafka are both open source tools. Airflow with 12.9K GitHub stars and 4.71K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Kafka with 12.7K GitHub stars and 6.81K GitHub forks.
According to the StackShare community, Kafka has a broader approval, being mentioned in 509 company stacks & 470 developers stacks; compared to Airflow, which is listed in 72 company stacks and 33 developer stacks.