Is Apache Kafka a Database?

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If you’re a tech student, learning the differences between a variety of types of software, analytical platforms, and other business tools will be a large part of preparing yourself for your career. Programs historically have stored information primarily using databases. This made it easy to record information on a number of things in a particular state, but they are inefficient and ineffective at storing event-based data. Now that businesses are gravitating towards tracking events rather than things, tools like Kafka have become more popular. If you’re studying information technology or data science, it’s helpful to understand the differences between these types of storage and processing. Read on to learn more about Kafka and how it compares to a traditional database solution.

Is Kafka a database?


It’s important to start by understanding what Apache Kafka is and what isn’t. Traditionally, programs store information in databases, which is simply an organized collection of data, stored electronically and able to be accessed by users through a computer system. Databases take things and store them in the state that they’re in, but the business and technological world is moving more towards recording data based on events, rather than things. Storing events can be cumbersome, which is what has brought about the widespread use of tools like Kafka.

So no, Kafka is not a database as we understand it. Kafka is an open-source messaging platform written in Scala and Java that processes and organizes data in terms of events. Understanding the difference between things and an event, in the context of Apache Kafka, is simple. A thermostat inside a smart home is a thing. Someone changing the temperature setting of that thermostat is an event. An account on a retail platform is a thing, but a customer updating their address within their account is an event. Kafka organizes and aggregates data through event logs that are sorted using their topics system, which can then be analyzed in real time.

How is Apache Kafka used?


Now that you have a basic idea of what Apache Kafka does, it’s useful to learn more about how it’s actually used in business today. Kafka can be used in combination with a number of external software programs and systems, through Kafka Connect.

TIBCO Spotfire is just one type of analytical software that can be used in combination with Kafka to great success in businesses across a diverse array of industries. Real-world examples of Kafka and TIBCO’s technology in action can be seen in the systems utilized by Caesar’s Entertainment, which was the first casino in Vegas to transition to cloud-based hotel management.

TIBCO Spotfire is also a partner of Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team, which uses Kafka to log and analyze thousands of data points per car per second. Hemlock Semiconductor Corporation also used Kafka to achieve $300,000 in savings per month on electricity consumption.

Tools like Apache Kafka are essential for anyone hoping to go into data science, but mastering advanced technology can take a significant investment of brainpower and time. It’s a good idea to start educating yourself about Kafka and its applications while you’re still working towards your degree, so you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to using what you’ve learned in a real-world setting. While many people think about preparing for their careers, you may also need Kafka in your classes or during an internship program, so it’s worth it to try and pick it up early. There are plenty of resources both online and off that can help you get started, as long as you put in the effort to look for them.

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