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Kafka vs RabbitMQ: What are the differences?

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; RabbitMQ: A messaging broker - an intermediary for messaging. RabbitMQ gives your applications a common platform to send and receive messages, and your messages a safe place to live until received.

Kafka and RabbitMQ can be categorized as "Message Queue" tools.

Some of the features offered by Kafka are:

  • 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)

On the other hand, RabbitMQ provides the following key features:

  • Robust messaging for applications
  • Easy to use
  • Runs on all major operating systems

"High-throughput" is the top reason why over 95 developers like Kafka, while over 203 developers mention "It's fast and it works with good metrics/monitoring" as the leading cause for choosing RabbitMQ.

Kafka and RabbitMQ are both open source tools. It seems that Kafka with 12.7K GitHub stars and 6.81K forks on GitHub has more adoption than RabbitMQ with 5.94K GitHub stars and 1.78K GitHub forks.

reddit, 9GAG, and Rainist are some of the popular companies that use RabbitMQ, whereas Kafka is used by Uber Technologies, Spotify, and Slack. RabbitMQ has a broader approval, being mentioned in 940 company stacks & 548 developers stacks; compared to Kafka, which is listed in 509 company stacks and 470 developer stacks.

What is Kafka?

Kafka is a distributed, partitioned, replicated commit log service. It provides the functionality of a messaging system, but with a unique design.

What is RabbitMQ?

RabbitMQ gives your applications a common platform to send and receive messages, and your messages a safe place to live until received.

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What are some alternatives to Kafka and RabbitMQ?
ActiveMQ
Apache ActiveMQ is fast, supports many Cross Language Clients and Protocols, comes with easy to use Enterprise Integration Patterns and many advanced features while fully supporting JMS 1.1 and J2EE 1.4. Apache ActiveMQ is released under the Apache 2.0 License.
Amazon Kinesis
Amazon Kinesis can collect and process hundreds of gigabytes of data per second from hundreds of thousands of sources, allowing you to easily write applications that process information in real-time, from sources such as web site click-streams, marketing and financial information, manufacturing instrumentation and social media, and operational logs and metering data.
Apache Spark
Spark is a fast and general processing engine compatible with Hadoop data. It can run in Hadoop clusters through YARN or Spark's standalone mode, and it can process data in HDFS, HBase, Cassandra, Hive, and any Hadoop InputFormat. It is designed to perform both batch processing (similar to MapReduce) and new workloads like streaming, interactive queries, and machine learning.
Akka
Akka is a toolkit and runtime for building highly concurrent, distributed, and resilient message-driven applications on the JVM.
Storm
Apache Storm is a free and open source distributed realtime computation system. Storm makes it easy to reliably process unbounded streams of data, doing for realtime processing what Hadoop did for batch processing. Storm has many use cases: realtime analytics, online machine learning, continuous computation, distributed RPC, ETL, and more. Storm is fast: a benchmark clocked it at over a million tuples processed per second per node. It is scalable, fault-tolerant, guarantees your data will be processed, and is easy to set up and operate.
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Decisions about Kafka and RabbitMQ
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Reviews of Kafka and RabbitMQ
Review ofRabbitMQRabbitMQ

I developed one of the largest queue based medical results delivery systems in the world, 18,000+ queues and still growing over a decade later all using MQSeries, later called Websphere MQ. When I left that company I started using RabbitMQ after doing some research on free offerings.. it works brilliantly and is incredibly flexible from small scale single instance use to large scale multi-server - multi-site architectures.

If you can think in queues then RabbitMQ should be a viable solution for integrating disparate systems.

How developers use Kafka and RabbitMQ
Avatar of Pinterest
Pinterest uses KafkaKafka

http://media.tumblr.com/d319bd2624d20c8a81f77127d3c878d0/tumblr_inline_nanyv6GCKl1s1gqll.png

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.

Avatar of Cloudify
Cloudify uses RabbitMQRabbitMQ

The poster child for scalable messaging systems, RabbitMQ has been used in countless large scale systems as the messaging backbone of any large cluster, and has proven itself time and again in many production settings.

Avatar of Chris Saylor
Chris Saylor uses RabbitMQRabbitMQ

Rabbit acts as our coordinator for all actions that happen during game time. All worker containers connect to rabbit in order to receive game events and emit their own events when applicable.

Avatar of Clarabridge Engage
Clarabridge Engage uses RabbitMQRabbitMQ

Used as central Message Broker; off-loading tasks to be executed asynchronous, used as communication tool between different microservices, used as tool to handle peaks in incoming data, etc.

Avatar of Analytical Informatics
Analytical Informatics uses RabbitMQRabbitMQ

RabbitMQ is the enterprise message bus for our platform, providing infrastructure for managing our ETL queues, real-time event notifications for applications, and audit logging.

Avatar of Packet
Packet uses RabbitMQRabbitMQ

RabbitMQ is an all purpose queuing service for our stack. We use it for user facing jobs as well as keeping track of behind the scenes jobs.

Avatar of Coolfront Technologies
Coolfront Technologies uses KafkaKafka

Building out real-time streaming server to present data insights to Coolfront Mobile customers and internal sales and marketing teams.

Avatar of ShareThis
ShareThis uses KafkaKafka

We are using Kafka as a message queue to process our widget logs.

Avatar of Christopher Davison
Christopher Davison uses KafkaKafka

Used for communications and triggering jobs across ETL systems

Avatar of theskyinflames
theskyinflames uses KafkaKafka

Used as a integration middleware by messaging interchanging.

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