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May 25, 2023
13 min

The Key Word in Data Integration with Apache Kafka: Replayability

May 25, 2023
13 min
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Data integration is an important part of data science, as it involves combining info from different sources into a unified view, which is necessary for analysis and data modeling. Data integration combines data from disparate sources: databases, data applications, and files, into a single, unified view that can be used for analysis and decision-making. Apache Kafka provides a scalable, fault-tolerant, and distributed platform for collecting, processing and storing high-volume streams.

Kafka Throughput (Multiple Producers/Consumers per node)

Kafka Throughput (Multiple Producers/Consumers per node)

Data Integration: Different Sources — Common Understanding

Data integration with Apache Kafka involves capturing from different sources and feeding them into topics. They act as a central hub, allowing various applications to consume the data in real time. What property makes Kafka a popular tool? Read on.

Data integration system with Apache Kafka gets easier

Data integration is needed to deliver enterprise data. All departments in a company collect large amounts of data with different structures, formats, and functions. Data integration involves architectural methods, tools, and practices to keep disparate data together for analysis. As a result, brands get a comprehensive view of their data to extract valuable business intelligence.

Proven product

Kafka was developed by LinkedIn in 2011, but the product is constantly being improved. Now it's a platform that provides enough redundancy to store vast data. It provides a message bus with enormous bandwidth, and all data passing through it can be processed in real-time. If we talk officially about Apache Kafka data integration, this is a distributed, horizontally scalable, fault-tolerant commit log.

Enterprises that use Kafka must consider any additional rights reserved by the authors or publishers of specific components or plugins and legal and regulatory requirements related to data privacy and security.

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Five reasons why data integration with Apache Kafka is essential?

Data integration with Apache Kafka is vital for several reasons:

  1. Apache Kafka is a distributed streaming platform that implies real-time data processing. By integrating data from different sources with Kafka, brands can process and analyze data as it's generated, allowing them to make timely business rules and decisions.
  2. Apache Kafka is designed to handle large volumes of data and can scale horizontally to accommodate growing data volumes. Data integration with Kafka allows organizations to manage and process large amounts of data from multiple sources.
  3. Integrating data from different sources can lead to data inconsistencies and discrepancies. Apache Kafka provides a unified platform for data integration, ensuring data consistency and accuracy.
  4. Integrating data with Apache Kafka can help streamline the data processing workflow. Instead of managing multiple data sources and processing pipelines, organizations can use Kafka to centralize their data processing and analysis.
  5. Apache Kafka supports a wide range of data sources and formats, making it a flexible platform for data integration. Customers can process data from different sources, including databases, message queues, and IoT devices, and support it in real time.

Apache Kafka is a distributed system that runs in a segmented form on many machines at once, forming a cluster; to the end user, they look like a single node. The distribution of Kafka is that the storage, receipt, and distribution of messages are organized on different nodes (the so-called "brokers"). The advantages of this approach are high availability and fault tolerance. If you want to always be on the cutting edge of technology, book a call.

Data Path When Integrating Data with Apache Kafka

Apache Kafka is a distributed message broker that works in streaming mode. The main task of the broker is to provide real-time communication between applications or individual modules. In the case of Apache Kafka, a broker is a system that converts a message or event from a data source (producer) into a message/event from the receiving side (consumer). The broker acts as a conductor and consists of servers united in clusters.

In Apache Kafka, migration data moves from one cluster to another or from a non-Kafka data source to a Kafka cluster. It’s necessary when organizations move to a newer version or consolidate data from multiple clusters into one.

What's inside Apache Kafka

During data integration, an event or message comes from one service, is stored on Apache Kafka nodes, and is read by other services.

The message consists of the following:

  • Key — an optional key for distributing messages across the cluster
  • Value — the array of business data
  • Timestamp — current system time, set by sender or cluster during processing
  • Headers — custom key-value attributes that are attached to the message

In addition to the broker server, there are two more objects in the Kafka architecture:

  1. Producer — a data provider that generates service events, logs, metrics, and monitoring events.
  2. A consumer — a data consumer who reads and uses events — a statistics collection service.

Recall that in Kafka, brokers do not delete messages as consumers process them, so the same message can be processed as often as you like by different consumers and in other contexts.

When a consumer subscribes to a topic, it can get started with offsets from which it wants to consume messages. The consumer can then use a pull-based approach to fetch messages from the broker periodically. And in queues, a push model is used when the server requests the client, sending him a new piece of data.

What Apache Kafka Can Do

Present to your attention some of the use cases for Kafka in data integration:

  • Kafka can be used as a data ingestion layer to capture data from various sources and make it available for processing and analysis. Kafka's ability to handle high volumes and support multiple data formats makes it ideal for ingesting large amounts of data.
  • Kafka can stream data in real time from one system to another. It can stream data from a database to a data warehouse (data lake) or from an application to a dashboard. It is more typical of financial services.
  • Kafka processes data in real-time using Kafka Streams or other stream processing frameworks. It enables the data catalog to be transformed, enriched and analyzed as it flows through the system.
  • Sometimes Kafka is used as a central event hub in event-driven architectures. In this case, Kafka decouples various services and applications, allowing them to communicate with each other asynchronously.
  • Kafka integrates data across multiple systems, including legacy systems, databases, and cloud data services. It enables businesses to break down data silos and get a more holistic view of their data.

Kafka is a flexible tool that can be used for various data integration use cases, with the advantage that messages are not deleted as they are processed. It leads customers to data-driven insight.

What Apache Kafka Can Do

Where Is This Piece of the Puzzle From?

Putting together a data integration strategy is like putting a puzzle together. And a piece called Apache Kafka is critical. It can be inserted into the following options for data integration strategies:

  • Extract, Transform, Load (ETL). Data is extracted from various sources, transformed to meet the desired format or schema, and then loaded into a target system. Kafka is a central hub in this case. The same goes for ELT.
  • Kafka creates data pipelines that process and move data between systems in real time. This strategy benefits fraud detection, stock trading, or IoT applications.
  • Kafka integrates microservices by providing a messaging layer between them. This strategy allows microservices to communicate asynchronously and decouples them from each other, making it easier to maintain and scale the system.
  • Kafka provides on-premises and cloud-based systems in a hybrid environment. This strategy allows for seamless data flow between systems in different locations and enables customers to leverage the benefits of both approaches.

If you cannot develop a data integration strategy, DATAFOREST specialists await your signal to complete the turnkey work.

Efficient data batching

Kafka Connect is a framework that enables scalable and reliable data integration between Kafka platform and other systems. It supports a variety of batch sizes, ranging from small batches to large ones. The batch size can be configured through the connector properties. When a connector is started, Kafka Connect reads data from the source system and writes it to Kafka in batches. The connector configuration determines the batch size and can be adjusted to fit the specific use case.

Batch processing with Kafka Connect has several benefits, including:

  1. In this way, Kafka Connect efficiently moves large amounts of data between systems, reducing the number of requests and improving performance.
  2. Processing data in batches helps reduce the latency between the source and the destination systems, as multiple records can be processed in a single request.
  3. By processing data in batches, Connect ensures data consistency, as all records in a set are processed together and can be written to the destination system atomically.

Kafka Connect is an Apache Kafka message broker utility responsible for moving data between the platform and other big data stores. It runs as a cluster of worker processes. Connectors are installed on each executor process, which runs tasks to move large amounts of data in parallel and efficiently use the available resources of worker nodes.

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Library for real-time

Apache Kafka Streams is the client library for developing distributed applications and real-time event streaming microservices where inputs and outputs are stored in Kafka clusters. The library provides a high-level API for processing streams that allows developers to write stream-processing logic using Java programming constructs such as map, filter, and reduce. The advantages are low latency, high throughput, easy integration, and stateful processing.

Apache Kafka can be used with stream processing frameworks (Apache Flink and Apache Spark) to perform complex data transformations and feature engineering. It helps to extract features from the raw data to train machine learning models.

Apache Kafka connects with other puzzle pieces

As the tool for building scalable and reliable data pipelines, Apache Kafka can be used with other data integration tools to create more robust data integration solutions.

  • Kafka Connect includes data connectors allowing easy integration with various sources and sinks, such as databases, file systems, and cloud integration services.
  • Apache NiFi is a data integration platform that enables the creation of data pipelines using a visual interface.
  • Apache Spark is a distributed computing framework for batch and real-time data processing.

The combination of Kafka's scalability and reliability with the capabilities of other data integration tools allows us to build flexible and efficient data integration solutions. Streaming analytics gain insights and make decisions quickly, as data is being generated, rather than waiting for batch processing to complete. In a supply chain, Kafka streams real-time data from various sources, such as production lines, warehouses, and transportation systems, to promote better decision-making and improve efficiency.

Java is still the most popular language used with Apache Kafka.

Apache Kafka connects with other puzzle pieces

Benefits of Using Apache Kafka for Data Integration

One of the most significant advantages of Apache Kafka in data integration is throughput — as the number of sources increases, so does throughput due to horizontal scalability. Therefore, many tasks of storing and processing large arrays of input and output data are completed faster, which is especially important when promptly notifying all clients about an upcoming event. From a practical point of view, the following properties are valid:

  1. system reliability
  2. high performance
  3. open-source project with an active community

The versatility of Kafka is achieved through the Streams technology. The client library allows developers to interact with data stored in Kafka topics.

Two key features of Apache Kafka

Kafka can handle large amounts of data and be easily scaled up or down to meet changing data processing needs. Some of the key features that enable scalability include:

  • Partitioning is distributing data across multiple brokers, allowing it to handle large amounts of data and ensuring that it can be processed in parallel.
  • Kafka uses replication to ensure that data is highly available and durable. Data is replicated across multiple brokers; if one fails, it is still available from the other. It’s comfortable for disaster recovery making.
  • Tools for managing Kafka clusters (adding or removing brokers) are rebalancing partitions and scaling up or down the number of brokers.

Data must be delivered to the right place at the right time without loss or corruption. Kafka's reliability main features are:

  • Kafka ensures that data is delivered at least once using acknowledgments and retries. Producers can wait for them from Kafka to ensure that data has been successfully provided, and if data is not, the producer can retry.
  • Kafka provides data sets delivered in the queue it was produced using partitioning. Data within a partition are delivered in the queue, and data across partitions can be ordered using a timestamp.

Kafka's ability to handle large amounts of data and ensure it is delivered reliably and consistently has made it a popular choice for customers that need to process and analyze data in real time. Book a call, get advice from DATAFOREST, and move in the right direction.

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Live data processing

Kafka provides several tools and APIs for real-time data processing:

  • Producers are used to sending data to topics
  • Consumers are used to reading data from topics
  • The Streams API is used for real-time data processing in Kafka
  • The Connect API is for integrating Kafka with external systems

Kafka's real-time data processing capabilities make it a powerful tool for building real-time data pipelines and data streaming applications.

In Apache Kafka, master data refers to a set of core data entities critical to an organization's operations and typically shared across multiple applications and systems. Master data in Apache Kafka is generally managed using a distributed streaming platform that enables real-time data processing, analysis, and management.

Building a data system in Apache Kafka

In Kafka, data is organized into topics, which act as channels for the data. Topics can be partitioned and replicated across different data brokers. To consolidate data, it is Kafka Connect, a tool that enables the integration of Kafka with external systems. It allows to consolidate data from multiple sources into a single topic for data processing and analysis.

Data virtualization in Apache Kafka refers to the ability to access data from multiple sources as if they were a single, unified data source. Self-service helps different business units access and analyze data without relying on IT or data engineering teams.

Kafka also provides features for organizing and managing data within topics. It can be partitioned based on a key, allowing efficient data retrieval and processing. Kafka also offers retention policies to determine how long data is retained in a topic before being deleted, and compaction ensures that only the latest version of a record with a specific key is kept in the topic.

Kafka has another structure that acts as a safety valve. ZooKeeper is a distributed coordination service often used with Apache Kafka to manage and coordinate the cluster. It is a separate component that runs alongside brokers.

Less complexity, lower cost

Kafka provides a simple, streamlined architecture to reduce data integration and management complexity. Using topics, partitions, and brokers keeps a transparent and scalable model for storing and processing data. Regarding lowering the cost of Kafka, the following properties of the platform are relevant:

  • An open-source project means no licensing fees are associated with using the platform. It can significantly make data integration and management cost-effective.
  • Kafka suggests quickly scaling data integration solutions to meet growing data demands without incurring additional costs associated with scaling proprietary solutions.
  • Kafka's flexible architecture and API management allow easy data integration with various data sources. It has a positive effect on the customization process and, accordingly, on the maintenance cost.

DATAFOREST has successful cases and positive customer stories in cost optimization on different platforms. We invite you to share this experience.

What you need to be prepared for when integrating data with Kafka

As the leading data infrastructure, Kafka is a large and complex platform in its own right, raising the barrier to entry into the technology and the difficulty of ongoing maintenance. In practice, administrators and data engineers working with Apache Kafka, along with the positive qualities of the platform, highlight the main challenges.

You need to set up the tool correctly

Implementing and configuring Apache Kafka can be complex, especially for brands new to the platform or working with large-scale data integration environments.

  • Configuring platform components requires a deep understanding of the Kafka architecture and the interdependencies between the different elements.
  • Kafka topic partitions require careful consideration of data volume, processing speed, and fault tolerance.
  • Configuring such security features as authentication, authorization, encryption, and SSL/TLS may require external providers or specialized security tools.
  • Kafka is often used as part of a larger data integration environment, and it requires an understanding of the APIs and protocols used by Kafka and the source systems it is being integrated with.
  • Monitoring and managing the system requires specialized tools and expertise: monitoring topics and partitions, detecting and responding to errors and anomalies, and optimizing performance.

Clients should carefully consider these factors before embarking on a Kafka implementation project.

Data integration requires special skills

Work on data integration initially involves a lot of knowledge and skills from a scientist. But Apache Kafka, for some of them, can add a few items to the list of necessary things: technical expertise, DevOps skills, data governance, and security policies. And for a data integration service provider, there may be problems with resource allocation and management tools with suitable infrastructure. It may involve hiring dedicated experts, partnering with managed service providers, or investing in education programs for existing staff.

Common Data Integration Risks

Like any messaging system, Kafka is subject to security risks for the following reasons:

  • Data breaches
  • Compliance violations
  • Insider threats
  • Third-party integration risks
  • Lack of visibility and control

Data risks may entail implementing additional security measures, investing in compliance audits and certifications, or partnering with managed data service providers specializing in data integration.

While Kafka does not have a partner portal, customers may have it to integrate for data exchange. It is a web-based platform that enables organizations to securely share information and collaborate with their partners, suppliers, and clients.

The Most Trodden Paths Apache Kafka Data Integration

The high flexibility and scalability of the Apache Kafka data integration tool are one of the positive qualities of the platform. But this also means that there can be many paths to one solution. The best of them is more trodden, although each case will have its unique answer.

Set clear and understandable goals

Starting with a clear strategy in data integration means defining business goals and data integration needs before implementing Kafka. It involves understanding what data you need to integrate, where it is located, and what business problems you are trying to solve. To properly implement this strategy, you need the following:

  • Define your data systems integration requirements
  • Identify your data sources and destinations
  • Understand your business goals
  • Evaluate the use cases for Kafka
  • Define your data architecture

It can help to avoid common pitfalls such as over-engineering your data integration pipeline or failing to consider the impact of data latency on your business processes.

Apache Kafka deployment options

Your deployment strategy will impact your Kafka cluster's performance, scalability, and availability. There can be three options:

  1. An on-premise deployment involves installing and running Kafka on your hardware within your data center. It can provide greater control over your Kafka environment but also require more maintenance and IT resources.
  2. A cloud-based deployment requires Kafka on cloud infrastructure such as AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform. It can reduce hardware maintenance. But it can also result in higher costs and less control over your Kafka environment.
  3. A hybrid deployment is assumed that use a combination of on-premise and cloud infrastructure to run your Kafka cluster. It can balance control and flexibility and allow you to optimize costs by using the cloud only when needed.

If you need more clarification on a decision, check it out with data scientists.

Ensuring data quality and consistency

In order to maintain a high level of data quality and consistency during data integration, the following practices should be followed:

  • Validation ensures that the data flowing is valid and conforms to expected formats
  • Transformation mechanisms keep data transformed and standardized consistently across different systems using application integration or data fabric.
  • Monitoring and alerting detect data quality issues and alert stakeholders when problems occur
  • Lineage tracks the movement of data across systems and apps

Ensuring data is high quality and consistent prevents errors, improves accuracy, and informs stakeholders if there is valuable data for decision-making.

Vigilant attention

Implementing effective monitoring and alerting in Apache Kafka demands the best practices. For example, tools like Kafka Manager, Kafka Monitor, or Confluent Control Center watch key metrics: message throughput, broker CPU and memory usage, and network latency. Or another example — such as Prometheus, Grafana, or Nagios tools trigger alerts based on defined thresholds or anomalies. In conclusion, Kafka Connect or Apache NiFi can reroute data and use monitoring and alerting tools to track the success of remediation efforts.

Apache Kafka Is Inside Data Integration

Apache Kafka passes many messages through a centralized environment and stores them without worrying about performance and data loss. The product has gathered around itself many projects, utilities, and tools for comfortable work, monitoring, and management. DATAFOREST has experience with this platform, but you need to consult whether it is suitable in a custom case. Get in touch, even if you have thoughts as you read or want to discuss the benefits of data integration for your business.

FAQ

What is Apache Kafka, and why is it needed for data integration?

Apache Kafka is a distributed messaging system that handles large data streams in real-time. It is beneficial for data integration because it allows for the real-time processing of data streams from multiple sources, making it an ideal solution for handling big data, streaming data, and event-driven architectures.

Why is Apache Kafka better for data integration than conventional ETL tools?

Apache Kafka is better for data integration than conventional ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tools in several ways: real-time processing, scalability, fault tolerance, stream processing, and data integration with multiple sources.

What are the primary use cases for data integration with Kafka?

Several prominent use cases exist for data integration with Apache Kafka: real-time business analytics tools, data pipelines, event-driven architectures, messaging, and data ingestion.

What needs to be configured in Apache Kafka for data integration?

To configure Apache Kafka for data integration, several critical components must be set up: topics, producers, consumers, partitioning, security, and monitoring.

Can Apache Kafka integrate and process data in real-time?

Yes, it can. Kafka achieves real-time processing using a publish-subscribe messaging model, where data is published to topics and then consumed by subscribers in real time. It allows data to be processed as it flows through the system, making it possible to perform real-time data analytics measures, detect anomalies or patterns, and trigger real-time actions.

How to protect data in Apache Kafka during data integration?

Protecting data in Apache Kafka during data integration requires careful consideration of security and data privacy measures. There are some key steps: encryption, authentication (remember to protect personal information), authorization, data masking and anonymization, data retention policies, and monitoring.

How does Apache Kafka manage the amount of data and scalability?

Apache Kafka is designed to handle large volumes of data and provides scalability to accommodate growing data volumes with partitioning, replication, clustering, storage management, and load balancing (multiple brokers).

Can Apache Kafka integrate data with other storage systems?

Yes, it can. Kafka Connect is a framework for building and running connectors that allow data to be ingested from external systems and written to external systems, enabling Kafka to be used as a central hub with data integrity for integration. Some popular storage systems that can be integrated with Kafka are relational databases (MySQL, Oracle, and PostgreSQL), NoSQL databases (MongoDB, Cassandra, and Couchbase), cloud storages (Amazon S3, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure), and Hadoop.

How does Apache Kafka support data format and schema changes while integrating data?

Kafka's support for schema evolution, Avro serialization, dynamic topic configuration, and consumer groups make it easier to manage data format and schema changes while integrating data. By supporting changes to data schemas and formats, Kafka enables organizations to evolve their data integration architecture over time and ensure that data is processed correctly, even as schemas change.

What are the best practices for optimizing data integration with Apache Kafka?

The best practices for optimizing the data integration process with Apache Kafka are proper topic partitioning, monitoring Kafka performance, data compression, Kafka connectors usage, schema registry, data quality, and data retention policies.

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