What’s the difference between Apache Kafka and Confluent Platform

For new starters and beginners in data streaming world (I was in this position 3 months back), especially to those who just met and get to know with Apache Kafka (in short Kafka) and Confluent Platform (in short Confluent), most of you likely confused on what’s the differences between Kafka and Confluent. Few questions are popping up in your head, like: Is Kafka = Confluent? Is Confluent who made Kafka? Or Kafka made Confluent? Are they different product having similar name? Or what?

The differences between Apache Kafka and Confluent Platform is like differences between Google Android and Samsung Android

Though the two are closely related but they are not the same. When talking about the differences between Kafka and Confluent, it’s like talking about the difference between Android and Samsung – though it’s not a perfect comparisons, but have to use this parable since it’s the closest and easiest for people to understand.

Android vs Samsung

Android is a product.

While Samsung is a company.

Samsung does have Android version of its own, with skinning and extra features on top of what original Android has.

When there’s a new version of Android come out, Samsung will take the code base from Android and apply the necessary skinning (the Samsung TouchWiz or One UI) plus additional compelling features.

Kafka vs Confluent

Same goes to Kafka and Confluent.

Kafka is a product.

While Confluent is a company.

Confluent does have Kafka version of its own, with skinning and extra features on top of what original Kafka has, marketed as Confluent Platform.

When there’s a new version of Kafka come out, Confluent will take the code base from Kafka and apply the necessary skinning (the Confluent Control Center) plus additional compelling features (Connectors, KSQL and many more – see below for full list).

The difference between Android & Samsung vs Kafka & Confluent

While Android was originally built by Andy Rubin and continued by Google and has little-to-none direct Samsung involvement on developing Android, Kafka was originally built by the same person who now own Confluent as a company where Confluent is one of the biggest committer to Kafka.

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Features differences between Apache Kafka and Confluent Platform

Features wise, at the time this article is written – as of Confluent version 5.1 and Kafka version 2.1.0, these are the differences and additional features that Confluent has.

differences between apache kafka and confluent Platform jilaxzone.com
Apache Kafka and Confluent Platform features as of Kafka 2.1.0 and Confluent 5.1

As seen on the image above, Apache Kafka provides the basic fundamental what a streaming platform delivers. While Confluent with its Confluent Platform provides additional features that makes Apache Kafka not only developer friendly but also more robust for enterprise use: KSQL, Connectors, Control Center, Replicator.

Apache Kafka is open-source FREE to download. Download latest Apache Kafka here.

While Confluent Platform, they have both open-source FREE to download and Enterprise paid package with 30-day FREE trial. Both can be downloaded here.

PS: additional features may be added in the future both to Kafka and Confluent.

For more detailed info, do visit Confluent official website here: https://www.confluent.io or Apache Kafka official website here: https://kafka.apache.org

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4 thoughts on “What’s the difference between Apache Kafka and Confluent Platform

  • February 26, 2020 at 4:38 pm

    Simple and crystal clear explanations. Keep up the good work please.

  • March 16, 2020 at 2:10 am

    Hi Jonathan, brilliant analogy. Thanks for the post.

    So is it correct to understand Confluent and OpenShift are competitors on who’s deploying Kafka’s?
    Any leads on comparing them both on this purpose?

    Thank you again! Just added you to my weekly reading list! 😉

    • March 16, 2020 at 10:42 pm

      Hi Orah,

      Glad that you like my post.
      On Confluent and OpenShift, they are not really a direct competitors – even I can say, they are complementing one to another, at least at this point of time.
      Check out link here: https://docs.confluent.io/current/installation/operator/index.html that tells you, Confluent can run on OpenShift.

      OpenShift direct competitor, in this case is not Confluent, but Kubernetes, as both are containerization platform.


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