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MQTT vs ZeroMQ: What are the differences?

Both MQTT and ZeroMQ are messaging protocols used in the field of Internet of Things (IoT) and distributed systems. Let's explore the key differences between them.

  1. Protocol Structure and Design: MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) is a lightweight messaging protocol designed for constrained devices and low-bandwidth, high-latency network connections. It follows a publish-subscribe messaging pattern and is built on top of the TCP/IP protocol. In contrast, ZeroMQ is a high-performance messaging library that provides socket-like messaging patterns. It emphasizes the building of fast and scalable distributed architectures.

  2. Message Reliability and QoS Levels: MQTT offers multiple levels of Quality of Service (QoS) to ensure reliable message delivery. These levels range from QoS 0 (at most once) to QoS 2 (exactly once), offering different trade-offs between message delivery speed and reliability. ZeroMQ, on the other hand, does not provide built-in message reliability or QoS guarantees. It is designed for high-speed, low-latency messaging where reliability can be implemented at the application layer if needed.

  3. Broker vs Brokerless: MQTT relies on a central message broker that handles the routing and delivery of messages between publishers and subscribers. The broker acts as an intermediary, storing messages and forwarding them to the intended recipients. ZeroMQ, in contrast, is a brokerless messaging framework where message sending and receiving are directly performed between the participating nodes. There is no central broker involved, which can result in more decentralized and scalable architectures.

  4. Transport Protocols: MQTT is built on top of the TCP/IP protocol, which provides reliable and ordered message delivery over the network. It ensures that messages are delivered in the order they were sent, which is crucial for certain applications. On the other hand, ZeroMQ supports various transport protocols, including TCP, PGM (Pragmatic General Multicast), and IPC (Inter-Process Communication). This flexibility allows ZeroMQ to be used in different network environments, including local and distributed systems.

  5. Message Size and Payload: MQTT imposes a limit on the maximum message size that can be sent, typically ranging from a few kilobytes to a few megabytes. This is due to its focus on constrained devices with limited resources. In contrast, ZeroMQ has no predefined maximum message size limit and can handle larger payloads. This makes ZeroMQ more suitable for applications that deal with large data transfers, such as multimedia streaming or big data processing.

  6. Ease of Use and Language Support: MQTT has a well-defined and standardized protocol specification, making it easier to implement and integrate into existing systems. It has extensive language support, with client libraries available in various programming languages. ZeroMQ, while not as standardized, provides a more flexible and lightweight messaging framework. It offers language bindings for many popular programming languages, allowing developers to choose the language that best fits their application requirements.

In summary, MQTT is a lightweight messaging protocol built on TCP/IP and designed for constrained devices. It provides QoS levels for reliable message delivery and relies on a central message broker. ZeroMQ, on the other hand, is a high-performance messaging library that supports various transport protocols and emphasizes decentralization. It does not provide built-in message reliability or QoS guarantees but offers greater flexibility and scalability.

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Pros of MQTT
Pros of ZeroMQ
  • 3
    Varying levels of Quality of Service to fit a range of
  • 2
    Lightweight with a relatively small data footprint
  • 2
    Very easy to configure and use with open source tools
  • 23
  • 20
  • 11
    Transport agnostic
  • 7
    No broker required
  • 4
    Low level APIs are in C
  • 4
    Low latency
  • 1
    Open source
  • 1

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Cons of MQTT
Cons of ZeroMQ
  • 1
    Easy to configure in an unsecure manner
  • 5
    No message durability
  • 3
    Not a very reliable system - message delivery wise
  • 1
    M x N problem with M producers and N consumers

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What is MQTT?

It was designed as an extremely lightweight publish/subscribe messaging transport. It is useful for connections with remote locations where a small code footprint is required and/or network bandwidth is at a premium.

What is ZeroMQ?

The 0MQ lightweight messaging kernel is a library which extends the standard socket interfaces with features traditionally provided by specialised messaging middleware products. 0MQ sockets provide an abstraction of asynchronous message queues, multiple messaging patterns, message filtering (subscriptions), seamless access to multiple transport protocols and more.

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What companies use MQTT?
What companies use ZeroMQ?
See which teams inside your own company are using MQTT or ZeroMQ.
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What tools integrate with MQTT?
What tools integrate with ZeroMQ?

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What are some alternatives to MQTT and ZeroMQ?
RabbitMQ gives your applications a common platform to send and receive messages, and your messages a safe place to live until received.
An architectural style for developing web services. A distributed system framework that uses Web protocols and technologies.
It is a set of open technologies for instant messaging, presence, multi-party chat, voice and video calls, collaboration, lightweight middleware, content syndication, and generalized routing of XML data.
Google Cloud Messaging
Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) is a free service that enables developers to send messages between servers and client apps. This includes downstream messages from servers to client apps, and upstream messages from client apps to servers.
Kafka is a distributed, partitioned, replicated commit log service. It provides the functionality of a messaging system, but with a unique design.
See all alternatives