Webinar: How Kafka and MemSQL Deliver Intelligent Real-Time Applications

Floyd Smith

Using Apache Kafka and MemSQL together makes it much easier to create and deliver intelligent, real-time applications. In a live webinar, which you can view here, MemSQL’s Alec Powell discussed the value that Kafka and MemSQL each bring to the table, shows reference architectures for solving common data management problems, and demonstrates how to implement real-time data pipelines with Kafka and MemSQL.

Kafka is an open source messaging queue that works on a publish-subscribe model. It’s distributed (like MemSQL) and durable. Kafka can serve as a source of truth for data across your organization.

What Kafka Does for Enterprise IT

Today, enterprise IT is held back by a few easy to identify, but seemingly hard to remedy, factors:

  • Slow data loading
  • Lengthy query execution
  • Limited user access

Kafka and MemSQL share complementary characteristics such as "exactly-once" support.

These factors interact in a negative way. Limited data messaging and computing capabilities limit user access. The users who do get on suffer from slower data loading and lengthy query execution. Increasing organizational needs for data access – for reporting, business intelligence (BI) queries, apps, machine learning, and artificial intelligence – are either blocked, preventing progress, or allowed, further overloading the system and slowing performance further.

Organizations try a number of fixes for these problems – offered by both existing and new vendors, usually with high price tags for solutions that add complexity and provide limited relief. Solutions include additional CPUs and memory, specialized hardware racks, pricey database add-ons, and caching tiers with limited data durability, weak SQL coverage, and high management costs and complexity.

NoSQL solutions offer fast ingest and scalability. However, they run queries slowly, demand limited developer time for even basic query optimization, and break compatibility with BI tools.

How MemSQL and Kafka Work Together

MemSQL offers a new data architecture that solves these problems. Unlike NoSQL solutions, MemSQL offers both scalability – which affords extreme performance – and an easy-to-use SQL architecture. MemSQL is fully cloud-native; it is neither tied to just one or two cloud platforms, nor cloud-unfriendly, as with most alternatives.

MemSQL is a good citizen in all kinds of modern and legacy data management deployments.

In the webinar, Alec shows how MemSQL works. Running as a Linux daemon, MemSQL offers a fully distributed system, and is cloud-native – running in the cloud and on-premises, in containers or virtual machines, and integrating with a wide range of existing systems. Within a MemSQL cluster, an aggregator node communicates with the database client, manages schema, and shares work across leaf nodes. (A master aggregator serves as a front-end to multiple aggregator nodes, if the scale of the database requires it.)

MemSQL runs multiple aggregator and leaf nodes to distribute work fully across a cluster.

MemSQL Pipelines integrate tightly with Kafka, supporting the exactly-once semantics for which Kafka has long been well-known. (See the announcement blog post in The New Stack: Apache Kafka 1.0 Released Exactly Once.) MemSQL polls for changes, pulls in new data, and executes transactions atomically (and exactly once). Pipelines are mapped directly to MemSQL leaf nodes for maximum performance.

MemSQL Pipelines take data from Kafka, et al, optionally transform it, and store it - fast.

Together, Kafka and MemSQL allow live loading of data, which is a widely needed, but rarely found capability. Used with Kafka, or in other infrastructure, MemSQL handles mixed workloads and meets tight SLAs for responsiveness – including with streaming data and strong demands for concurrency.

Kafka-MemSQL Q&A

There was a lively Q&A session. The questions and answers here include some that were handled in the webinar and some that could not be answered in the live webinar because of time constraints.

Q. Can Kafka and MemSQL run in the cloud?
A. Both Kafka and MemSQL are cloud-native software. Roughly half of MemSQL’s deployments today are in the cloud; for instance, MemSQL often ingests data from AWS S3, and has been used to replace Redshift. The cloud’s share of MemSQL deployments is expected to increase rapidly in the future.

Q. Can MemSQL replace Oracle?
A. Yes, very much so – and other legacy systems too. Because of the complexities of many data architectures, however, MemSQL is often used first to augment Oracle. For instance, customers will use a change data capture (CDC) to copy data processed by Oracle to MemSQL. Then, analytics run against MemSQL, offloading Oracle (so transactions run faster) and leveraging MemSQL’s faster performance, superior price-performance, scalability, and much greater concurrency support for analytics.

Q. How large can deployments be?
A. We have customers running from the hundreds of megabytes up into the petabytes.

Q. With MemSQL Pipelines, can we parse JSON records?
A. Yes, MemSQL has robust JSON support.

Summing Up Kafka+MemSQL and the Webinar

In summary, MemSQL offers live loading of batch and streaming data, fast queries, and fully scalable user access. Together, Kafka and MemSQL remove access to data streaming and data access right across your organization. You can view the webinar now. You can also try MemSQL for free today or contact us to learn how we can help support your implementation plans.

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