Kafka Vs. ActiveMQ - Comparing Key Differences & Use Cases

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Written by:

Nilanchala,  6 min read,  updated on September 17, 2023

Apache Kafka and ActiveMQ are both open-source message brokers, but they have some key differences in terms of their design and intended use cases.

Kafka is a distributed streaming platform that is designed for handling large streams of data in real-time. It is often used for processing real-time data streams, such as log data, sensor data, and financial data. Kafka is highly scalable and can handle millions of events per second.

ActiveMQ, on the other hand, is a message broker that supports a wide range of messaging protocols including JMS, AMQP, and MQTT. It is designed for enterprise use cases such as integration of distributed systems, event-driven architectures, and service-oriented architectures. It has a more traditional message broker architecture, which supports both point-to-point and publish-subscribe messaging patterns.

  1. Scalability: Kafka is designed to handle high throughput, low latency, and high scalability. It uses a publish-subscribe model and is built on a distributed architecture, allowing it to handle large amounts of data and handle high levels of concurrency. ActiveMQ, on the other hand, is designed for more traditional messaging scenarios and may not be as well suited for extremely high scalability.

  2. Durability: Kafka's messages are written to disk and replicated across multiple nodes, providing a high level of durability in case of node failures. ActiveMQ also provides a high level of durability, but it may not be as robust as Kafka in certain scenarios.

  3. Performance: Kafka has been designed for very high performance and can handle millions of messages per second. ActiveMQ also provides good performance, but it may not be as fast as Kafka in certain scenarios.

  4. Latency: Kafka has a lower latency than ActiveMQ as it uses a zero-copy design and a memory-mapped file system. ActiveMQ's latency is higher as it requires message to be copied between different layers of the system.

  5. Use cases: Kafka is often used in big data and streaming scenarios, such as real-time data pipelines and event-driven architectures. ActiveMQ is more commonly used in traditional messaging scenarios, such as enterprise application integration and message-oriented middleware.

  6. Partitioning: Kafka supports partitioning of messages across multiple servers which allows it to scale horizontally. ActiveMQ does not have built-in support for partitioning.

In general, Kafka is often considered to be a better choice for large-scale, high-performance, and real-time streaming scenarios, while ActiveMQ is more appropriate for traditional message driven architecture integration in enterprise systems..

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