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Confluent builds out Kafka event streaming platform

Confluent aims to make it easier for users to query data in motion coming from Apache Kafka, with the ksqlDB pull query capability in its cloud platform update.

Confluent updated its namesake cloud platform with new event streaming capabilities for organizations to use data in motion.

The Confluent update for the third quarter of 2021 became generally available on Aug. 17 and is the first major update for Confluent since the vendor's IPO on June 24.

Confluent is one of the leading contributors to the open source Apache Kafka event streaming technology and with its Confluent Cloud platform provides a managed service in the cloud for Kafka.

With the update, Confluent expanded the capabilities of its ksqlDB event streaming database, which will now enable users to rapidly query streaming Kafka data. The update also provides a cluster linking capability that will support multi-cloud event streaming querying and deployments.

Dave Menninger, an analyst at Ventana Research, noted that cluster linking was introduced as a preview feature in Confluent 6.0 and is now also generally available. Cluster linking provides features required to keep distributed implementations in sync as well as provides disaster recovery options.

"Given the rising importance of data in motion to many organizations, I suspect these features will be considered essential and are not easily achieved with Apache Kafka on its own," Menninger commented.

Confluent moves to quarterly release cycle for event streaming

The Q3 2021 release is not just the first new release since Confluent had its IPO. It's also the first in a new quarterly approach to release.

Screenshot of Confluent Cloud
Confluent Cloud now enables users to interactively query data in motion coming from Kafka event streams.

Dan Rosanova, head of product management for Confluent Cloud, explained that Confluent is continually working on updates for its platform, but by releasing updates quarterly, it will make it easier for organizations to understand and learn about new features.

Given the rising importance of data in motion to many organizations, I suspect these features will be considered essential and are not easily achieved with Apache Kafka on its own.
Dave MenningerAnalyst, Ventana Research

One feature that users have seen for a year in preview is cluster linking. Rosanova noted that a core capability that cluster linking will enable is better multi-cloud integration and easier-to-manage support.

With ksqlDB pull queries, users can query event streaming

Another capability that is now generally available and has been in development for a year is called ksqlDB pull queries.

Rosanova explained that in the past Kafka has had the ability to enable push queries, in which information is pushed into a different technology, such as CosmosDB or Redis, in order for users to interactively query data.

With ksqlDB pull queries, users can now directly query streaming data with ksqlDB, without needing to push the data to a different platform.

Among the applications for ksqlDB pull queries is the ability for a user to query an event stream to get the last known value from a stream, to help understand the current state of an entity. Rosanova added that users can now also execute ad hoc queries against streaming data with ksqlDB.

Rosanova emphasized that ksqlDB will not replace the need for organizations to use a data warehouse, which is used for long term data at rest. He noted that Confluent's focus is on data in motion that is changing quickly.

"The ksqlDB pull query will certainly give people an ability to see results quicker," Rosanova said.

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