What is Confluent Platform?

Confluent Platform is a streaming platform that enables you to organize and manage data from many different sources with one reliable, high performance system. A streaming platform provides the system to transport data and all of the tools needed to connect data sources, applications, and data sinks to the platform.

Confluent Platform makes it easy build real-time data pipelines and streaming applications. By integrating data from multiple sources and locations into a single, central streaming platform for your company. Confluent Platform lets you focus on how to derive business value from your data rather than worrying about the underlying mechanics such as how data is being transported or massaged between various systems. Specifically, the Confluent Platform simplifies connecting data sources to Apache Kafka®, building applications with Kafka, as well as securing, monitoring, and managing your Kafka infrastructure.

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Confluent Platform Components

Overview

At the core of Confluent Platform is Apache Kafka, the most popular open source distributed streaming platform. The key capabilities of Kafka are:

  • Publish and subscribe to streams of records
  • Store streams of records in a fault tolerant way
  • Process streams of records

It is used by hundreds of companies for a variety of use cases, including collecting user activity data, system logs, application metrics, stock ticker data, and device instrumentation signals.

The key components of the Apache Kafka open source project are Kafka Brokers and Kafka Java Client APIs.

Kafka Brokers
Kafka brokers that form the messaging, data persistency and storage tier of Apache Kafka.
Kafka Java Client APIs
  • Producer API is a Java Client that allows an application to publish a stream records to one or more Kafka topics.
  • Consumer API is a Java Client that allows an application to subscribe to one or more topics and process the stream of records produced to them.
  • Streams API allows applications to act as a stream processor, consuming an input stream from one or more topics and producing an output stream to one or more output topics, effectively transforming the input streams to output streams. It has a very low barrier to entry, easy operationalization, and a high-level DSL for writing stream processing applications. As such it is the most convenient yet scalable option to process and analyze data that is backed by Kafka.
  • Connect API is a component that you can use to stream data between Kafka and other data systems in a scalable and reliable way. It makes it simple to configure connectors to move data into and out of Kafka. Kafka Connect can ingest entire databases or collect metrics from all your application servers into Kafka topics, making the data available for stream processing. Connectors can also deliver data from Kafka topics into secondary indexes like Elasticsearch or into batch systems such as Hadoop for offline analysis.

Each release of Confluent Platform includes the latest release of Apache Kafka and additional tools and services that make it easier to build and manage a streaming platform. Confluent Platform delivers both community and commercially licensed features that complement and enhance your Apache Kafka deployment.

Commercial Features

Confluent Control Center

Confluent Control Center is a GUI-based system for managing and monitoring Apache Kafka. It allows you to easily manage Kafka Connect, to create, edit, and manage connections to other systems. It also allows you to monitor data streams from producer to consumer, assuring that every message is delivered, and measuring how long it takes to deliver messages. Using Control Center, you can build a production data pipeline based on Apache Kafka without writing a line of code. Control Center also has the capability to define alerts on the latency and completeness statistics of data streams, which can be delivered by email or queried from a centralized alerting system.

Confluent Replicator

Confluent Platform makes it easier than ever to maintain multiple Kafka clusters in multiple data centers. Managing replication of data and topic configuration between data centers enables use-cases such as:

  • Active-active geo-localized deployments: allows users to access a near-by data center to optimize their architecture for low latency and high performance
  • Centralized analytics: Aggregate data from multiple Kafka clusters into one location for organization-wide analytics
  • Cloud migration: Use Kafka to synchronize data between on-prem applications and cloud deployments

You can use Confluent Replicator to configure and manage replication for all these scenarios from either Confluent Control Center or command-line tools.

Confluent Auto Data Balancer

As clusters grow, topics and partitions grow at different rates, brokers are added and removed and over time this leads to unbalanced workload across datacenter resources. Some brokers are not doing much at all, while others are heavily taxed with large or many partitions, slowing down message delivery. When executed, Confluent Auto Data Balancer monitors your cluster for number of brokers, size of partitions, number of partitions and number of leaders within the cluster. It allows you to shift data to create an even workload across your cluster, while throttling rebalance traffic to minimize impact on production workloads while rebalancing.

For more information, see the automatic data balancing documentation.

Confluent JMS Client

Confluent Platform includes a JMS-compatible client for Apache Kafka. This Kafka client implements the JMS 1.1 standard API, using Apache Kafka brokers as the backend. This is useful if you have legacy applications using JMS, and you would like to replace the existing JMS message broker with Apache Kafka. By replacing the legacy JMS message broker with Apache Kafka, existing applications can integrate with your modern streaming platform without a major rewrite of the application.

For more information, see JMS Client.

Confluent MQTT Proxy

Provides bidirectional access to Kafka from MQTT devices and gateways without the need for a MQTT Broker in the middle.

For more information, see MQTT Proxy.

Confluent Security Plugins

Confluent Security Plugins are used to add security capabilities to various Confluent Platform tools and products.

Currently, there is a plugin available for Kafka REST Proxy which helps in authenticating the incoming requests and propagating the authenticated principal to requests to Kafka. This enables Kafka REST Proxy clients to utilize the multi-tenant security features of the Kafka broker. For more information, see Confluent Security Plugins.

Community Features

Confluent KSQL

Confluent KSQL is the streaming SQL engine for Apache Kafka. It provides an easy-to-use yet powerful interactive SQL interface for stream processing on Kafka, without the need to write code in a programming language such as Java or Python. KSQL is scalable, elastic, fault-tolerant, and real-time. It supports a wide range of streaming operations, including data filtering, transformations, aggregations, joins, windowing, and sessionization.

KSQL supports these use cases:

Streaming ETL
Apache Kafka is a popular choice for powering data pipelines. KSQL makes it simple to transform data within the pipeline, readying messages to cleanly land in another system.
Real-time Monitoring and Analytics
Track, understand, and manage infrastructure, applications, and data feeds by quickly building real-time dashboards, generating metrics, and creating custom alerts and messages.
Data exploration and discovery
Navigate and browse through your data in Kafka.
Anomaly detection
Identify patterns and spot anomalies in real-time data with millisecond latency, allowing you to properly surface out of the ordinary events and to handle fraudulent activities separately.
Personalization
Create data driven real-time experiences and insight for users.
Sensor data and IoT
Understand and deliver sensor data how and where it needs to be.
Customer 360-view
Achieve a comprehensive understanding of your customers across every interaction through a variety of channels, where new information is continuously incorporated in real-time.

For more information, see the KSQL documentation.

Confluent Connectors

Connectors leverage the Kafka Connect API to connect Apache Kafka to other data systems such as Apache Hadoop. Confluent Platform provides connectors for the most popular data sources and sinks, and include fully tested and supported versions of these connectors with Confluent Platform. The available connectors include JDBC, HDFS, Elasticsearch, and S3.

For more information and the full list of connectors, see Kafka Connectors documentation.

Confluent Clients

C/C++ Client Library

The library librdkafka is the C/C++ implementation of the Apache Kafka protocol, containing both Producer and Consumer support. It was designed with message delivery, reliability and high performance in mind. Current benchmarking figures exceed 800,000 messages per second for the producer and 3 million messages per second for the consumer. This library includes support for many new features Kafka 0.10, including message security. It also integrates easily with libserdes, our C/C++ library for Avro data serialization (supporting Schema Registry).

For more information, see the Kafka Clients documentation.

Python Client Library

A high-performance client for Python.

For more information, see the Kafka Clients documentation.

Go Client Library

Confluent Platform includes of a full-featured, high-performance client for Go.

For more information, see the Kafka Clients documentation.

.Net Client Library

Confluent Platform bundles a full featured, high performance client for .Net.

For more information, see the Kafka Clients documentation.

Confluent Schema Registry

One of the most difficult challenges with loosely coupled systems is ensuring compatibility of data and code as the system grows and evolves. With a messaging service like Kafka, services that interact with each other must agree on a common format, called a schema, for messages. In many systems, these formats are ad hoc, only implicitly defined by the code, and often are duplicated across each system that uses that message type.

As requirements change, it becomes necessary to evolve these formats. With only an ad-hoc definition, it is very difficult for developers to determine what the impact of their change might be.

Confluent Schema Registry enables safe, zero downtime evolution of schemas by centralizing the management of schemas written for the Avro serialization system. It tracks all versions of schemas used for every topic in Kafka and only allows evolution of schemas according to user-defined compatibility settings. This gives developers confidence that they can safely modify schemas as necessary without worrying that doing so will break a different service they may not even be aware of.

Schema Registry also includes plugins for Kafka clients that handle schema storage and retrieval for Kafka messages that are sent in the Avro format. This integration is seamless – if you are already using Kafka with Avro data, using Schema Registry only requires including the serializers with your application and changing one setting.

For more information, see the Schema Registry documentation.

Confluent REST Proxy

Apache Kafka and Confluent provide native clients for Java, C, C++, and Python that make it fast and easy to produce and consume messages through Kafka. These clients are usually the easiest, fastest, and most secure way to communicate directly with Kafka.

But sometimes, it isn’t practical to write and maintain an application that uses the native clients. For example, an organization might want to connect a legacy application written in PHP to Kafka. Or suppose that a company is running point-of-sale software that runs on cash registers, written in C# and running on Windows NT 4.0, maintained by contractors, and needs to post data across the public internet. To help with these cases, Confluent Platform includes a REST Proxy. The REST Proxy addresses these problems.

The Confluent REST Proxy makes it easy to work with Kafka from any language by providing a RESTful HTTP service for interacting with Kafka clusters. The REST Proxy supports all the core functionality: sending messages to Kafka, reading messages, both individually and as part of a consumer group, and inspecting cluster metadata, such as the list of topics and their settings. You can get the full benefits of the high quality, officially maintained Java clients from any language.

The REST Proxy also integrates with Schema Registry. It can read and write Avro data, registering and looking up schemas in Schema Registry. Because it automatically translates JSON data to and from Avro, you can get all the benefits of centralized schema management from any language using only HTTP and JSON.

For more information, see the Confluent REST Proxy documentation.