Kafka vs NATS: What are the differences?
What is Kafka? 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.
What is NATS? Lightweight publish-subscribe & distributed queueing messaging system. Unlike traditional enterprise messaging systems, NATS has an always-on dial tone that does whatever it takes to remain available. This forms a great base for building modern, reliable, and scalable cloud and distributed systems.
Kafka belongs to "Message Queue" category of the tech stack, while NATS can be primarily classified under "Realtime Backend / API".
"High-throughput" is the top reason why over 95 developers like Kafka, while over 13 developers mention "Fastest pub-sub system out there" as the leading cause for choosing NATS.
Kafka is an open source tool with 12.7K GitHub stars and 6.81K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Kafka's open source repository on GitHub.
According to the StackShare community, Kafka has a broader approval, being mentioned in 509 company stacks & 470 developers stacks; compared to NATS, which is listed in 26 company stacks and 12 developer stacks.
What is Kafka?
What is NATS?
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I use Kafka because it has almost infinite scaleability in terms of processing events (could be scaled to process hundreds of thousands of events), great monitoring (all sorts of metrics are exposed via JMX).
Downsides of using Kafka are: - you have to deal with Zookeeper - you have to implement advanced routing yourself (compared to RabbitMQ it has no advanced routing)
The question for which Message Queue to use mentioned "availability, distributed, scalability, and monitoring". I don't think that this excludes many options already. I does not sound like you would take advantage of Kafka's strengths (replayability, based on an even sourcing architecture). You could pick one of the AMQP options.
I would recommend the RabbitMQ message broker, which not only implements the AMQP standard 0.9.1 (it can support 1.x or other protocols as well) but has also several very useful extensions built in. It ticks the boxes you mentioned and on top you will get a very flexible system, that allows you to build the architecture, pick the options and trade-offs that suite your case best.
For more information about RabbitMQ, please have a look at the linked markdown I assembled. The second half explains many configuration options. It also contains links to managed hosting and to libraries (though it is missing Python's - which should be Puka, I assume).
I used Kafka originally because it was mandated as part of the top-level IT requirements at a Fortune 500 client. What I found was that it was orders of magnitude more complex ...and powerful than my daily Beanstalkd , and far more flexible, resilient, and manageable than RabbitMQ.
So for any case where utmost flexibility and resilience are part of the deal, I would use Kafka again. But due to the complexities involved, for any time where this level of scalability is not required, I would probably just use Beanstalkd for its simplicity.
I tend to find RabbitMQ to be in an uncomfortable middle place between these two extremities.
Front-end messages are logged to Kafka by our API and application servers. We have batch processing (on the middle-left) and real-time processing (on the middle-right) pipelines to process the experiment data. For batch processing, after daily raw log get to s3, we start our nightly experiment workflow to figure out experiment users groups and experiment metrics. We use our in-house workflow management system Pinball to manage the dependencies of all these MapReduce jobs.
Building out real-time streaming server to present data insights to Coolfront Mobile customers and internal sales and marketing teams.