Apache Pulsar vs. Apache Kafka: Differences and Use Cases

Apache Pulsar and Apache Kafka are two popular open-source distributed messaging systems used for real-time streaming data processing. Both platforms offer high throughput and low latency message delivery, but they have different architectures and use cases. In this article, we will explore the differences between Apache Pulsar and Apache Kafka and their respective use cases.


Apache Kafka is designed as a distributed, horizontally-scalable system for processing large volumes of data in real-time. It is built around a publish-subscribe model where producers send messages to topics and consumers subscribe to those topics to receive messages. Kafka uses a cluster of brokers to manage the distribution of messages across partitions, and each partition is replicated across multiple brokers for fault tolerance.

Apache Pulsar, on the other hand, is designed as a cloud-native, multi-tenant messaging system that is both horizontally and vertically scalable. It uses a messaging fabric architecture where producers and consumers connect to brokers, which are responsible for handling message storage and delivery. Pulsar supports both publish-subscribe and queueing models, and it allows for the creation of multiple independent namespaces to support multi-tenancy.

Messaging Model

Apache Kafka uses a topic-based messaging model where producers publish messages to topics and consumers subscribe to those topics to receive messages. Topics can be partitioned for scalability, and Kafka uses a combination of partitioning and replication to ensure fault tolerance and high availability. Kafka also supports consumer groups, which allow multiple consumers to receive messages from the same topic simultaneously.

Apache Pulsar supports both topic-based and queue-based messaging models. In the topic-based model, producers publish messages to topics and consumers subscribe to those topics to receive messages, similar to Kafka. However, Pulsar also supports queueing, where multiple consumers can read messages from the same queue, with each message being delivered to only one consumer. This can be useful in scenarios where message ordering is important, or when messages need to be processed in parallel by multiple consumers.


Both Apache Pulsar and Apache Kafka are designed for horizontal scalability, meaning they can handle increasing workloads by adding more nodes to the cluster. However, Pulsar has several advantages in terms of scalability. Pulsar uses a concept called “tiered storage,” which allows data to be stored in multiple tiers of storage, including memory, SSD, and disk. This allows Pulsar to handle large volumes of data without running out of memory, while still maintaining low latency for frequently accessed data.

Pulsar also supports dynamic provisioning, which means that new topics can be automatically created and scaled as needed based on usage patterns. This allows Pulsar to adapt to changing workloads without manual intervention. Additionally, Pulsar supports multi-tenancy through the use of independent namespaces, which allows for multiple organizations to use the same cluster while maintaining isolation and security.

Use Cases

Apache Kafka is well-suited for use cases that require high throughput and low latency, such as real-time data streaming, log aggregation, and event sourcing. Kafka’s publish-subscribe model is particularly useful for scenarios where multiple consumers need to receive the same data simultaneously, such as in real-time analytics or monitoring.

Apache Pulsar is designed for use cases that require cloud-native scalability and multi-tenancy, such as IoT data processing, machine learning, and microservices architecture. Pulsar’s support for both topic-based and queue-based messaging models, along with its tiered storage and dynamic provisioning capabilities, make it well-suited for handling large volumes of data and scaling to meet changing workloads.


In conclusion, Apache Pulsar and Apache Kafka are both powerful distributed messaging systems that can handle high volumes of data in real-time. While they have some similarities, such as their ability to scale horizontally, they also have distinct architectures and use cases. Apache Kafka’s publish-subscribe model makes it ideal for real-time analytics and monitoring, while Apache Pulsar’s support for both topic-based and queue-based messaging models, as well as its dynamic provisioning and multi-tenancy capabilities, make it well-suited for cloud-native scalability and IoT data processing.



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