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Azure Functions vs Kafka: What are the differences?

What is Azure Functions? Listen and react to events across your stack. Azure Functions is an event driven, compute-on-demand experience that extends the existing Azure application platform with capabilities to implement code triggered by events occurring in virtually any Azure or 3rd party service as well as on-premises systems.

What is Kafka? Distributed, fault tolerant, high throughput pub-sub messaging system. Kafka is a distributed, partitioned, replicated commit log service. It provides the functionality of a messaging system, but with a unique design.

Azure Functions can be classified as a tool in the "Serverless / Task Processing" category, while Kafka is grouped under "Message Queue".

Some of the features offered by Azure Functions are:

  • Easily schedule event-driven tasks across services
  • Expose Functions as HTTP API endpoints
  • Scale Functions based on customer demand

On the other hand, Kafka provides the following key features:

  • Written at LinkedIn in Scala
  • Used by LinkedIn to offload processing of all page and other views
  • Defaults to using persistence, uses OS disk cache for hot data (has higher throughput then any of the above having persistence enabled)

"Pay only when invoked" is the primary reason why developers consider Azure Functions over the competitors, whereas "High-throughput" was stated as the key factor in picking Kafka.

Kafka is an open source tool with 12.5K GitHub stars and 6.7K GitHub forks. Here's a link to Kafka's open source repository on GitHub.

Slack, Shopify, and SendGrid are some of the popular companies that use Kafka, whereas Azure Functions is used by Property With Potential, OneWire, and Veris. Kafka has a broader approval, being mentioned in 501 company stacks & 451 developers stacks; compared to Azure Functions, which is listed in 27 company stacks and 21 developer stacks.

Advice on Azure Functions and Kafka

Need advice on what platform, systems and tools to use.

Evaluating whether to start a new digital business for which we will need to build a website that handles all traffic. Website only right now. May add smartphone apps later. No desktop app will ever be added. Website to serve various countries and languages. B2B and B2C type customers. Need to handle heavy traffic, be low cost, and scale well.

We are open to either build it on AWS or on Microsoft Azure.

Apologies if I'm leaving out some info. My first post. :) Thanks in advance!

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Replies (2)
Anis Zehani

I recommend this : -Spring reactive for back end : the fact it's reactive (async) it consumes half of the resources that a sync platform needs (so less CPU -> less money). -Angular : Web Front end ; it's gives you the possibility to use PWA which is a cheap replacement for a mobile app (but more less popular). -Docker images. -Kubernetes to orchestrate all the containers. -I Use Jenkins / blueocean, ansible for my CI/CD (with Github of course) -AWS of course : u can run a K8S cluster there, make it multi AZ (availability zones) to be highly available, use a load balancer and an auto scaler and ur good to go. -You can store data by taking any managed DB or u can deploy ur own (cheap but risky).

You pay less money, but u need some technical 2 - 3 guys to make that done.

Good luck

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My advice will be Front end: React Backend: Language: Java, Kotlin. Database: SQL: Postgres, MySQL, Aurora NOSQL: Mongo db. Caching: Redis. Public : Spring Webflux for async public facing operation. Admin api: Spring boot, Hibrernate, Rest API. Build Container image. Kuberenetes: AWS EKS, AWS ECS, Google GKE. Use Jenkins for CI/CD pipeline. Buddy works is good for AWS. Static content: Host on AWS S3 bucket, Use Cloudfront or Cloudflare as CDN.

Serverless Solution: Api gateway Lambda, Serveless Aurora (SQL). AWS S3 bucket.

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Needs advice

We are going to develop a microservices-based application. It consists of AngularJS, ASP.NET Core, and MSSQL.

We have 3 types of microservices. Emailservice, Filemanagementservice, Filevalidationservice

I am a beginner in microservices. But I have read about RabbitMQ, but come to know that there are Redis and Kafka also in the market. So, I want to know which is best.

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Replies (4)
Maheedhar Aluri

Kafka is an Enterprise Messaging Framework whereas Redis is an Enterprise Cache Broker, in-memory database and high performance database.Both are having their own advantages, but they are different in usage and implementation. Now if you are creating microservices check the user consumption volumes, its generating logs, scalability, systems to be integrated and so on. I feel for your scenario initially you can go with KAFKA bu as the throughput, consumption and other factors are scaling then gradually you can add Redis accordingly.

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Angular 2

I first recommend that you choose Angular over AngularJS if you are starting something new. AngularJs is no longer getting enhancements, but perhaps you meant Angular. Regarding microservices, I recommend considering microservices when you have different development teams for each service that may want to use different programming languages and backend data stores. If it is all the same team, same code language, and same data store I would not use microservices. I might use a message queue, in which case RabbitMQ is a good one. But you may also be able to simply write your own in which you write a record in a table in MSSQL and one of your services reads the record from the table and processes it. The most challenging part of doing it yourself is writing a service that does a good job of reading the queue without reading the same message multiple times or missing a message; and that is where RabbitMQ can help.

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Amit Mor
Software Architect at Payoneer · | 3 upvotes · 195.2K views

I think something is missing here and you should consider answering it to yourself. You are building a couple of services. Why are you considering event-sourcing architecture using Message Brokers such as the above? Won't a simple REST service based arch suffice? Read about CQRS and the problems it entails (state vs command impedance for example). Do you need Pub/Sub or Push/Pull? Is queuing of messages enough or would you need querying or filtering of messages before consumption? Also, someone would have to manage these brokers (unless using managed, cloud provider based solution), automate their deployment, someone would need to take care of backups, clustering if needed, disaster recovery, etc. I have a good past experience in terms of manageability/devops of the above options with Kafka and Redis, not so much with RabbitMQ. Both are very performant. But also note that Redis is not a pure message broker (at time of writing) but more of a general purpose in-memory key-value store. Kafka nowadays is much more than a distributed message broker. Long story short. In my taste, you should go with a minialistic approach and try to avoid either of them if you can, especially if your architecture does not fall nicely into event sourcing. If not I'd examine Kafka. If you need more capabilities than I'd consider Redis and use it for all sorts of other things such as a cache.

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We found that the CNCF landscape is a good advisor when working going into the cloud / microservices space: When choosing a technology one important criteria to me is if it is cloud native or not. Neither Redis, RabbitMQ nor Kafka is cloud native. The try to adapt but will be replaced eventually with technologies that are cloud native.

We have gone with NATS and have never looked back. We haven't spend a single minute on server maintainance in the last year and the setup of a cluster is way too easy. With the new features NATS incorporates now (and the ones still on the roadmap) it is already and will be sooo much mure than Redis, RabbitMQ and Kafka are. It can replace service discovery, load balancing, global multiclusters and failover, etc, etc.

Your thought might be: But I don't need all of that! Well, at the same time it is much more leightweight than Redis, RabbitMQ and especially Kafka.

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Pramod Nikam
Co Founder at Usability Designs · | 2 upvotes · 133K views
Needs advice
Apache Thrift

I am looking into IoT World Solution where we have MQTT Broker. This MQTT Broker Sits in one of the Data Center. We are doing a lot of Alert and Alarm related processing on that Data, Currently, we are looking into Solution which can do distributed persistence of log/alert primarily on remote Disk.

Our primary need is to use lightweight where operational complexity and maintenance costs can be significantly reduced. We want to do it on-premise so we are not considering cloud solutions.

We looked into the following alternatives:

Apache Kafka - Great choice but operation and maintenance wise very complex. Rabbit MQ - High availability is the issue, Apache Pulsar - Operational Complexity. NATS - Absence of persistence. Akka Streams - Big learning curve and operational streams.

So we are looking into a lightweight library that can do distributed persistence preferably with publisher and subscriber model. Preferable on JVM stack.

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Replies (1)
Naresh Kancharla
Staff Engineer at Nutanix · | 4 upvotes · 130.3K views

Kafka is best fit here. Below are the advantages with Kafka ACLs (Security), Schema (protobuf), Scale, Consumer driven and No single point of failure.

Operational complexity is manageable with open source monitoring tools.

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Decisions about Azure Functions and Kafka
Kirill Mikhailov

Maybe not an obvious comparison with Kafka, since Kafka is pretty different from rabbitmq. But for small service, Rabbit as a pubsub platform is super easy to use and pretty powerful. Kafka as an alternative was the original choice, but its really a kind of overkill for a small-medium service. Especially if you are not planning to use k8s, since pure docker deployment can be a pain because of networking setup. Google PubSub was another alternative, its actually pretty cheap, but I never tested it since Rabbit was matching really good for mailing/notification services.

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Pros of Azure Functions
Pros of Kafka
  • 12
    Pay only when invoked
  • 8
    Great developer experience for C#
  • 6
    Multiple languages supported
  • 5
    Great debugging support
  • 2
    Poor developer experience for C#
  • 2
    Can be used as lightweight https service
  • 2
    Easy scalability
  • 1
    Azure component events for Storage, services etc
  • 1
    Event driven
  • 1
  • 119
  • 113
  • 85
  • 78
  • 64
  • 35
  • 17
  • 14
    Open source
  • 10
    Written in Scala and java. Runs on JVM
  • 6
    Message broker + Streaming system
  • 4
    Avro schema integration
  • 2
    Suport Multiple clients
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
    Partioned, replayable log
  • 1
  • 1
    Extremely good parallelism constructs
  • 1
    Simple publisher / multi-subscriber model
  • 1

Sign up to add or upvote prosMake informed product decisions

Cons of Azure Functions
Cons of Kafka
    Be the first to leave a con
    • 27
      Non-Java clients are second-class citizens
    • 26
      Needs Zookeeper
    • 7
      Operational difficulties
    • 2
      Terrible Packaging

    Sign up to add or upvote consMake informed product decisions

    - No public GitHub repository available -

    What is Azure Functions?

    Azure Functions is an event driven, compute-on-demand experience that extends the existing Azure application platform with capabilities to implement code triggered by events occurring in virtually any Azure or 3rd party service as well as on-premises systems.

    What is Kafka?

    Kafka is a distributed, partitioned, replicated commit log service. It provides the functionality of a messaging system, but with a unique design.

    Need advice about which tool to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

    Jobs that mention Azure Functions and Kafka as a desired skillset
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    What tools integrate with Azure Functions?
    What tools integrate with Kafka?

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    Blog Posts

    Mar 24 2021 at 12:57PM


    Jun 24 2020 at 4:42PM


    Jan 7 2020 at 5:09PM

    Ably Realtime

    What are some alternatives to Azure Functions and Kafka?
    AWS Lambda
    AWS Lambda is a compute service that runs your code in response to events and automatically manages the underlying compute resources for you. You can use AWS Lambda to extend other AWS services with custom logic, or create your own back-end services that operate at AWS scale, performance, and security.
    Kubernetes is an open source orchestration system for Docker containers. It handles scheduling onto nodes in a compute cluster and actively manages workloads to ensure that their state matches the users declared intentions.
    Build applications comprised of microservices that run in response to events, auto-scale for you, and only charge you when they run. This lowers the total cost of maintaining your apps, enabling you to build more logic, faster. The Framework uses new event-driven compute services, like AWS Lambda, Google CloudFunctions, and more.
    Cloud Functions for Firebase
    Cloud Functions for Firebase lets you create functions that are triggered by Firebase products, such as changes to data in the Realtime Database, uploads to Cloud Storage, new user sign ups via Authentication, and conversion events in Analytics.
    Google Cloud Functions
    Construct applications from bite-sized business logic billed to the nearest 100 milliseconds, only while your code is running
    See all alternatives
    Reviews of Azure Functions and Kafka
    Review of
    Azure Functions

    Poor developer experience

    How developers use Azure Functions and Kafka
    Pinterest uses

    Front-end messages are logged to Kafka by our API and application servers. We have batch processing (on the middle-left) and real-time processing (on the middle-right) pipelines to process the experiment data. For batch processing, after daily raw log get to s3, we start our nightly experiment workflow to figure out experiment users groups and experiment metrics. We use our in-house workflow management system Pinball to manage the dependencies of all these MapReduce jobs.

    Coolfront Technologies uses

    Building out real-time streaming server to present data insights to Coolfront Mobile customers and internal sales and marketing teams.

    Yonas Tesh uses
    Azure Functions

    I used Azure functions as part of an integration service when creating a bulk insert module in azure.

    ShareThis uses

    We are using Kafka as a message queue to process our widget logs.

    Christopher Davison uses

    Used for communications and triggering jobs across ETL systems

    theskyinflames uses

    Used as a integration middleware by messaging interchanging.