What is Kafka Connect?

Kafka Connect is an open-source project that provides a scalable and reliable framework for integrating Kafka with external systems. It simplifies the process of building and managing data pipelines between Kafka and various data sources or sinks, enabling seamless data integration and stream processing. Kafka Connect serves as a powerful tool for developers, data engineers, and architects who need to handle data ingestion and replication tasks efficiently.

The key characteristics and benefits of Kafka Connect include the following:

  • Unifying streaming/batch integration: Kafka Connect is an ideal solution for bridging streaming and batch data systems. It enables developers to build data pipelines that integrate Kafka with other data systems, such as relational databases, NoSQL databases, object stores, and file systems.

  • A common framework for Kafka connectors: Kafka Connect standardizes integrating other data systems with Kafka, simplifying connector development, deployment, and management.

  • Extensibility: Kafka Connect offers a plugin architecture that allows developers to extend its functionality by building custom connectors. This extensibility enables seamless integration with new data sources or sinks, enabling organizations to adapt and evolve their data pipelines as their requirements change.

  • Ease of management: We can submit and manage connectors for the Kafka Connect cluster via an easy-to-use REST API.

  • Distributed and standalone modes: We can scale up to large clusters (with distributed mode) or scale down to development, testing, or smaller production deployments (with standalone mode).

  • Scalability and fault tolerance: Kafka Connect leverages the distributed nature of Apache Kafka, allowing it to scale horizontally and remain highly available.

Kafka Connect operating modes

Kafka Connect supports two modes of execution:

  • Standalone (single process)

  • Distributed

In standalone mode, all the work is performed in a single process. This configuration is simpler to set up and start with and can be useful in situations where only one worker is applicable (e.g., collecting log files), but it does not benefit from some of the features of Kafka Connect, such as fault tolerance.

In distributed mode, Kafka Connect operates as a distributed system with multiple worker instances running on different nodes. It handles automatic balancing of work, allows us to scale up (or down) dynamically, and offers fault tolerance both in the active tasks and for configuration to offset committed data. In distributed mode, Kafka Connect stores the offsets, configs, and task statuses in Kafka topics.

This table summarizes the difference between these modes.

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