How Confluent Completes Apache Kafka

Build real-time apps at top speed with a more complete distribution of Kafka, available everywhere your data and apps reside. Modernize your data infrastructure with Confluent

Apache Kafka is the foundation of modern data architectures, but the open-source technology alone doesn’t offer everything enterprises need to reach production quickly and implement data in motion use cases end-to-end. In order to connect, process, and react to data in motion across all of your cloud and on-premises environments, there are additional steps: developing connectors, building security features, deploying disaster recovery tools, and more. And even once that development work is done, the operational burden of running Kafka at scale can be costly and put a heavy load on your team.

How Confluent Completes Apache Kafka

To remedy this, Confluent offers a complete and secure enterprise-grade distribution of Kafka and makes it available everywhere your apps and data reside. In this article, you’ll learn how to:

  • Accelerate time to value and reduce TCO with Confluent’s complete and secure distribution of Kafka
  • Modernize your data architecture with a Kafka solution that’s re-engineered to be cloud-native
  • Pursue hybrid and multi-cloud strategies with a data platform that exists everywhere
  • Plus, you’ll learn how other Confluent customers—like KeyBank and Nuuly—are transforming their businesses by setting data in motion.

Content Summary

To truly tap into Kafka, you need Confluent
The Confluent Advantage: Complete, Cloud-native, Everywhere
Accelerate time to value and reduce TCO with a complete and secure Kafka distribution
Modernize your architecture with a cloud-native Kafka solution
Kafka re-imagined for the cloud
Pursue hybrid and multi-cloud strategies with a data platform that exists everywhere
Customer stories
Migrate to Confluent today

To truly tap into Kafka, you need Confluent

Apache Kafka® has gone mainstream. One of the most popular open-source projects available today, Kafka is used by over 80% of the Fortune 100 to modernize their data architectures and build realtime applications that deliver exceptional customer experiences and data-driven backend operations. For enterprises that have run Kafka for years, the platform has become their central nervous system, enabling them to connect, process, and react to their data in motion across all of their cloud and onpremises environments.

However, while Kafka is the foundation of a modern data architecture, it doesn’t offer everything needed to reach that optimal end state out of the box. Connectors need to be developed, tested, and maintained for your other data systems. Security features for access control, encryption, and auditing needed to be custom-built. Disaster recovery tools and application failover logic have to be created to protect your business against downtime, data loss, and their associated costs. And even once that’s all completed, the platform creates significant operational burdens and risks to maintain its performance, security, and availability going forward.

What does this all mean for your business? Higher total cost of ownership (TCO), delayed time to value, and lower ROI on your mission-critical projects to modernize your data infrastructure.

Here’s how Confluent can help: Confluent offers a complete and secure enterprise-grade distribution of Kafka and makes it available everywhere your data resides.

We want to ensure the success of your investment in Kafka to modernize and bridge your entire data architecture. To do so, you need a platform for data in motion that doesn’t require spending development cycles on building foundational tooling or investing significant engineering resources to maintain its performance and availability. Confluent provides everything you need to implement Kafka use cases quickly, safely, and reliably, so you can instead focus on developing real-time applications that drive real value for your business.

The Confluent Advantage: Complete, Cloud-native, Everywhere

Confluent has re-engineered Kafka to better support mission-critical enterprise workloads. There are three attributes that set Confluent apart from open-source Kafka and other infrastructure solutions for data in motion:

Complete
Confluent completes Kafka to make it enterprise-ready. On top of Kafka, we provide a set of features ready out of the box to unleash developer productivity, operate efficiently at scale, and meet stringent security and availability requirements before moving to production. We also offer a partnership for business success, ensuring your adoption of the transformational platform is seamless and creates significant value. And underpinning all this is our committer-driven expertise, providing support, professional services, and training from the team with over 1M hours of experience with Kafka.

Cloud-native
While Kafka is a highly scalable distributed system, it doesn’t meet the criteria most engineering teams associate with other cloud-native data platforms. ZooKeeper needs to be managed, partitions have to be manually rebalanced, complex upgrades must be completed without risking cluster downtime — the list goes on. Confluent redesigned Kafka to be more cloud-native to operate over 5,000 clusters as part of our fully managed cloud service, Confluent Cloud. For enterprises still early in their journey to the cloud, Confluent Platform provides many of the same cloud-native attributes with the control and customization that comes with self-managing infrastructure in your private environments.

Everywhere
Unlike other vendors, Confluent doesn’t offer a solution for just a subset of cloud providers or on-premises environments. Confluent offers true deployment flexibility, spanning everywhere your business needs it. For workloads in the public cloud, Confluent offers a fully managed service available on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform, enabling you to offload Kafka management to world’s foremost experts. For workloads in your private cloud or traditional datacenter, Confluent offers a self-managed, enterprise-grade distribution of Kafka that automates cluster deployment and key lifecycle tasks across bare metal servers, virtual machines, and Kubernetes environments.

Accelerate time to value and reduce TCO with a complete and secure Kafka distribution

Rather than investing significant engineering resources to build and maintain foundational tools for Kafka, Confluent enables you to immediately set data in motion throughout your enterprise with a complete, secure, and ready-to-use platform. With Confluent, you can deploy to production quickly and confidently while eliminating your team’s day-to-day operational risks and burdens by leveraging a valuable set of enterprise-grade features and services.

Unrestricted developer productivity
Confluent comes with a set of tools to enhance developer agility so that you can quickly build applications on top of Kafka that offer rich, digital experiences to your customers and power datadriven business operations:

  • Multi-language development: Clients for popular programming languages and REST APIs to make Kafka broadly accessible to developers
  • Rich pre-built ecosystem: 120+ connectors for popular sources and sinks to bridge legacy data systems to a cloud-native tech stack
  • Streaming database: SQL interface to simplify stream processing architectures and easily build modern, real-time applications

Efficient operations at scale
Operating Kafka at scale can be immensely challenging, requiring many manual, complex, and time-consuming management tasks. Confluent significantly reduces the operational burden of Kafka, whether you choose to offload management entirely to Confluent Cloud or self-manage with Confluent Platform:

  • Management and monitoring: GUI tools to ensure cluster health, accelerate troubleshooting, and meet uptime SLAs
  • Flexible DevOps automation: Infrastructureas-code tooling to fully automate cluster deployment and key lifecycle tasks
  • Dynamic performance and elasticity: Elastic scaling and infinite data storage to meet any workload for data in motion use cases

Production-stage prerequisites
Moving to production requires minimizing the risk of security breaches, data corruption, and downtime. Confluent ensures you meet stringent architectural requirements and avoid disruption to your business:

  • Enterprise-grade security: Role-based access control, audit logs for forensics, and encryption of sensitive data to secure the platform
  • Data compatibility: Programmatic validation of data schemas to avoid data corruption for mission-critical applications
  • Global availability: Automated failover and replication tools to build highly available clusters and minimize downtime costs

Committer-driven expertise
Confluent was founded by the original creators of Apache Kafka, enabling our team to provide industry-leading support and services. Ensuring our customers’ success with our platform for data in motion is our singular focus:

  • Enterprise support: Access to expert support engineers that work directly with Apache Kafka committers
  • Professional services: Engagements to achieve your desired business outcomes and de-risk your investment in Kafka
  • Education: Variety of training offerings to build broad Kafka expertise throughout your organization

Modernize your architecture with a cloud-native Kafka solution

Data systems built for the cloud are different in significant ways, and the experience of using these systems is simply much better. Confluent strives to bring those cloud-native attributes to Kafka, whether through a fully managed cloud service or through self-managed software for workloads that need to stay on private infrastructure. There are many attributes that make Confluent more cloudnative than the open-source technology, but there are three that are particularly important: elastic, reliable, and infinite.

Elastic
Cloud-native data systems are expected to scale up as demand peaks and scale down as demand falls, removing the need for detailed capacity planning and reducing the risk of over-provisioning infrastructure. While Kafka is capable of reaching a massive scale, the actual scaling process can be quite complex and manual. Confluent simplifies that scaling process drastically, enabling you to quickly scale up to meet unexpected demand and just as quickly scale back down to manage your costs.

Reliable
Kafka is a powerful distributed data system, but it can be complex to keep clusters running at peak capacity and ensure high availability. Developers and other key resources often get pulled off their projects to deal with cluster maintenance, and it can be tough to identify and solve problems that lead to lag, downtime, or data loss, causing your business to grind to a halt. To combat these challenges, Confluent offers a 99.95% uptime SLA on its fully managed cloud service, along with supporting clusters that span multiple availability zones. For on-prem workloads that require a self-managed solution, we offer Health+ to alert you to problems in your Kafka cluster before failures and downtime occur. We also offer automated failover after a datacenter outage to minimize disruption to your business and to help you recover in seconds.

Infinite
Kafka was designed to build real-time applications that serve rich customer experiences and power data-driven operations. However, storing large amounts of data in Kafka can be tremendously expensive, restricting how much these applications can leverage historical context. With Confluent, you can store data infinitely in a more cost-effective manner, so your teams unlock even more powerful real-time experiences and insights. Plus, you no longer need to pull resources to firefight downtime due to disk space-related failures.

Kafka re-imagined for the cloud

  • Elastic
  • Secure & Reliable
  • Infinite
  • Global
  • Cost Effective
  • API-driven Operations
  • Serverless
  • Multitenant

Pursue hybrid and multi-cloud strategies with a data platform that exists everywhere

Kafka helps to streamline digital architectures, avoid complex point-to-point integrations, and break data silos by syncing data systems and apps in real time. To meet that goal though, you need Kafka to span across all of your environments. If you operate across a multitude of on-premises and cloud environments, other data in motion solutions will only be able to support a subset of your overall architecture, limiting your ability to build a consistent data layer across your enterprise.

Confluent exists everywhere your applications and data reside, providing you the freedom to leverage a fully managed service on the leading public clouds and self-managed software that you can deploy for workloads that remain on premises, whether on bare metal, virtual machines, or Kubernetes. Best of all, it’s simple to connect and share data between independent Confluent clusters regardless of their deployment model, enabling you to bridge your entire data architecture across all of your different environments.

Confluent exists everywhere you need it.

Confluent Cloud
For customers who have begun their journey to the cloud, Confluent Cloud offers a fully managed, cloud-native service for data in motion on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Confluent Cloud enables you to offload Kafka management entirely and instead focus on building applications that drive your business forward, helping to dramatically lower your Kafka TCO and accelerate time to value for new use cases. Confluent Cloud is also integrated into the three public clouds’ marketplaces, so your team can use your existing cloud provider credentials to leverage Kafka quickly.

Confluent Platform
Many workloads need to remain on premises for some time, whether due to regulation or to cloud migration efforts that are more gradual. Confluent Platform, our self-managed software offering, is designed to support those workloads. The platform offers automated deployment and management for any type of infrastructure in your private environments, whether you’re leveraging bare-metal servers, virtual machines, or Kubernetes to build your own private cloud Kafka service. And when you’re ready to move to the cloud and offload Kafka management entirely, Confluent provides Cluster Linking to easily migrate these self-managed clusters to our fully managed cloud service.

Customer stories

How KeyBank accelerated time to value with Confluent’s complete platform

“These Confluent Platform capabilities are a big help to us, because instead of having to roll our own, we can simply take advantage of what Confluent has built on top of the open-source platform.” – Scott Tucker, Director of Open Bank Engineering at KeyBank

Following the acquisition of Laurel Road, a digital consumer lending business, KeyBank launched an initiative to build a national digital bank focused on doctors, dentists, and other healthcare professionals looking to refinance student loans and buy homes. The initiative is viewed as a growth engineer for KeyBank, which is already among the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies, with assets of approximately $170.5 billion.

Confluent’s platform for data in motion is helping to fuel the national digital bank initiative and the wider digital transformation underway at KeyBank. A major motivation of this transformation was improving time to market for new products by democratizing data and decoupling systems across the IT landscape.

How Nuuly delivers high-pressure launches with reduced Kafka operational burden

“We truly think of Confluent Cloud and Kafka as the central nervous system of our business, spanning everything from the customer-facing applications to distribution center operations from a technology perspective.” – Chirag Dadia, Director of Engineering at Nuuly

Urban Outfitters came to Confluent to launch a new clothing rental subscription service, Nuuly, from the ground up, in a matter of months. This required an entirely new IT infrastructure, since the legacy IT systems in place at the retail company were designed and built for traditional retail sales. The new business model would require a real-time event-driven architecture—and in a hurry, as the launch was only six months out.

With the help of Confluent Customer Success expertise, Nuuly’s team of developers used Confluent Cloud to build a reliable, real-time, event-driven architecture that serves as the core operating platform for the entire service. Nuuly achieved a flawless launch on a tight schedule, with administrative overhead for Kafka management reduced by ten employees and ongoing stable operations, even as Nuuly quickly scaled up subscribers.

Migrate to Confluent today

Every minute spent building out components needed to move Kafka into production or manually completing complex management tasks is time taken away from building rich customer experiences and improving business efficiency with data-driven operations. Organizations that use Confluent have finished projects in less than six months that would have otherwise taken two years with Apache Kafka alone and drastically reduced the operational burdens, risks, and costs that they face day to day.