Strimzi Overview (Latest stable version)
- 1. Key features
- 2. About Kafka
- 3. Strimzi deployment of Kafka
- 4. Strimzi Operators
- 5. Kafka configuration
- 6. Securing Kafka
- 7. Monitoring
Strimzi simplifies the process of running Apache Kafka in a Kubernetes cluster.
This guide is intended as a starting point for building an understanding of Strimzi. The guide introduces some of the key concepts behind Kafka, which is central to Strimzi, explaining briefly the purpose of Kafka components. Configuration points are outlined, including options to secure and monitor Kafka. A Strimzi distribution provides the files to deploy and manage a Kafka cluster, as well as example files for configuration and monitoring of your deployment.
A typical Kafka deployment is described, as well as the tools used to deploy and manage Kafka.
The underlying data stream-processing capabilities and component architecture of Kafka can deliver:
Microservices and other applications to share data with extremely high throughput and low latency
Message ordering guarantees
Message rewind/replay from data storage to reconstruct an application state
Message compaction to remove old records when using a key-value log
Horizontal scalability in a cluster configuration
Replication of data to control fault tolerance
Retention of high volumes of data for immediate access
Kafka’s capabilities make it suitable for:
Event sourcing to capture changes to the state of an application as a log of events
Website activity tracking
Operational monitoring through metrics
Log collection and aggregation
Commit logs for distributed systems
Stream processing so that applications can respond to data in real time
Strimzi provides container images and Operators for running Kafka on Kubernetes. Strimzi Operators are fundamental to the running of Strimzi. The Operators provided with Strimzi are purpose-built with specialist operational knowledge to effectively manage Kafka.
Operators simplify the process of:
Deploying and running Kafka clusters
Deploying and running Kafka components
Configuring access to Kafka
Securing access to Kafka
Creating and managing topics
Creating and managing users
Apache Kafka is an open-source distributed publish-subscribe messaging system for fault-tolerant real-time data feeds.
For more information about Apache Kafka, see the Apache Kafka website.
Knowledge of the key concepts of Kafka is important in understanding how Strimzi works.
A Kafka cluster comprises multiple brokers Topics are used to receive and store data in a Kafka cluster. Topics are split by partitions, where the data is written. Partitions are replicated across topics for fault tolerance.
A broker, sometimes referred to as a server or node, orchestrates the storage and passing of messages.
A topic provides a destination for the storage of data. Each topic is split into one or more partitions.
A group of broker instances.
The number of topic partitions is defined by a topic partition count.
- Partition leader
A partition leader handles all producer requests for a topic.
- Partition follower
A partition follower replicates the partition data of a partition leader, optionally handling consumer requests.
Topics use a replication factor to configure the number of replicas of each partition within the cluster. A topic comprises at least one partition.
An in-sync replica has the same number of messages as the leader. Configuration defines how many replicas must be in-sync to be able to produce messages, ensuring that a message is committed only after it has been successfully copied to the replica partition. In this way, if the leader fails the message is not lost.
In the Kafka brokers and topics diagram, we can see each numbered partition has a leader and two followers in replicated topics.
Producers and consumers send and receive messages (publish and subscribe) through brokers. Messages comprise an optional key and a value that contains the message data, plus headers and related metadata. The key is used to identify the subject of the message, or a property of the message. Messages are delivered in batches, and batches and records contain headers and metadata that provide details that are useful for filtering and routing by clients, such as the timestamp and offset position for the record.
A producer sends messages to a broker topic to be written to the end offset of a partition. Messages are written to partitions by a producer on a round robin basis, or to a specific partition based on the message key.
A consumer subscribes to a topic and reads messages according to topic, partition and offset.
- Consumer group
Consumer groups are used to share a typically large data stream generated by multiple producers from a given topic. Consumers are grouped using a
group.id, allowing messages to be spread across the members. Consumers within a group do not read data from the same partition, but can receive data from one or more partitions.
Offsets describe the position of messages within a partition. Each message in a given partition has a unique offset, which helps identify the position of a consumer within the partition to track the number of records that have been consumed.
Committed offsets are written to an offset commit log. A
__consumer_offsetstopic stores information on committed offsets, the position of last and next offset, according to consumer group.
Apache Kafka components are provided for deployment to Kubernetes with the Strimzi distribution. The Kafka components are generally run as clusters for availability.
A typical deployment incorporating Kafka components might include:
Kafka cluster of broker nodes
ZooKeeper cluster of replicated ZooKeeper instances
Kafka Connect cluster for external data connections
Kafka MirrorMaker cluster to mirror the Kafka cluster in a secondary cluster
Kafka Exporter to extract additional Kafka metrics data for monitoring
Kafka Bridge to make HTTP-based requests to the Kafka cluster
Not all of these components are mandatory, though you need Kafka and ZooKeeper as a minimum. Some components can be deployed without Kafka, such as MirrorMaker or Kafka Connect.
A cluster of Kafka brokers is main part of the Apache Kafka project responsible for delivering messages.
A broker uses Apache ZooKeeper for storing configuration data and for cluster coordination. Before running Apache Kafka, an Apache ZooKeeper cluster has to be ready.
Each of the other Kafka components interact with the Kafka cluster to perform specific roles.
- Apache ZooKeeper
Apache ZooKeeper is a core dependency for Kafka as it provides a cluster coordination service, storing and tracking the status of brokers and consumers. ZooKeeper is also used for leader election of partitions.
- Kafka Connect
Kafka Connect is an integration toolkit for streaming data between Kafka brokers and other systems using Connector plugins. Kafka Connect provides a framework for integrating Kafka with an external data source or target, such as a database, for import or export of data using connectors. Connectors are plugins that provide the connection configuration needed.
A source connector pushes external data into Kafka.
A sink connector extracts data out of Kafka
External data is translated and transformed into the appropriate format.
You can deploy Kafka Connect with Source2Image support, which provides a convenient way to include connectors.
- Kafka MirrorMaker
Kafka MirrorMaker replicates data between two Kafka clusters, within or across data centers.
Using producers and consumers, MirrorMaker consumes messages from the (source) primary cluster and writes them to the (target) secondary cluster.
- Kafka Bridge
Kafka Bridge provides an API for integrating HTTP-based clients with a Kafka cluster.
- Kafka Exporter
Kafka Exporter extracts data for analysis as Prometheus metrics, primarily data relating to offsets, consumer groups, consumer lag and topics. Consumer lag is the delay between the last message written to a partition and the message currently being picked up from that partition by a consumer
Strimzi Kafka Bridge provides a RESTful interface that allows HTTP-based clients to interact with a Kafka cluster. Kafka Bridge offers the advantages of a web API connection to Strimzi, without the need for client applications to interpret the Kafka protocol.
The API has two main resources —
topics — that are exposed and made accessible through endpoints to interact with consumers and producers in your Kafka cluster. The resources relate only to the Kafka Bridge, not the consumers and producers connected directly to Kafka.
The Kafka Bridge supports HTTP requests to a Kafka cluster, with methods to:
Send messages to a topic.
Retrieve messages from topics.
Create and delete consumers.
Subscribe consumers to topics, so that they start receiving messages from those topics.
Retrieve a list of topics that a consumer is subscribed to.
Unsubscribe consumers from topics.
Assign partitions to consumers.
Commit a list of consumer offsets.
Seek on a partition, so that a consumer starts receiving messages from the first or last offset position, or a given offset position.
The methods provide JSON responses and HTTP response code error handling. Messages can be sent in JSON or binary formats.
Clients can produce and consume messages without the requirement to use the native Kafka protocol.
To view the API documentation, including example requests and responses, see the Kafka Bridge API reference on the Strimzi website.
You can use the Kafka Bridge to integrate both internal and external HTTP client applications with your Kafka cluster.
- Internal clients
Internal clients are container-based HTTP clients running in the same Kubernetes cluster as the Kafka Bridge itself. Internal clients can access the Kafka Bridge on the host and port defined in the
- External clients
External clients are HTTP clients running outside the Kubernetes cluster in which the Kafka Bridge is deployed and running. External clients can access the Kafka Bridge through an OpenShift Route, a loadbalancer service, or using an Ingress.
Having discussed the basics of Kafka, we can now look at how Strimzi supports Kafka using Operators to deploy and manage the components and dependencies of Kafka to Kubernetes.
Operators are a method of packaging, deploying, and managing a Kubernetes application. Strimzi Operators extend Kubernetes functionality, automating common and complex tasks related to a Kafka deployment. By implementing knowledge of Kafka operations in code, Kafka administration tasks are simplified and require less manual intervention.
Strimzi provides Operators for managing a Kafka cluster running within a Kubernetes cluster.
- Cluster Operator
Deploys and manages Apache Kafka clusters, Kafka Connect, Kafka MirrorMaker, Kafka Bridge, Kafka Exporter, and the Entity Operator
- Entity Operator
Comprises the Topic Operator and User Operator
- Topic Operator
Manages Kafka topics
- User Operator
Manages Kafka users
The Cluster Operator can deploy the Topic Operator and User Operator as part of an Entity Operator configuration at the same time as a Kafka cluster.
Strimzi uses the Cluster Operator to deploy and manage clusters for:
Kafka (including ZooKeeper, Entity Operator and Kafka Exporter)
Kafka Mirror Maker
Custom resources are used to deploy the clusters.
For example, to deploy a Kafka cluster:
Kafkaresource with the cluster configuration is created within the Kubernetes cluster.
The Cluster Operator deploys a corresponding Kafka cluster, based on what is declared in the
The Cluster Operator can also deploy (through configuration of the
A Topic Operator to provide operator-style topic management through
A User Operator to provide operator-style user management through
The Topic Operator and User Operator function within the Entity Operator on deployment.
The Topic Operator provides a way of managing topics in a Kafka cluster through Kubernetes resources.
The role of the Topic Operator is to keep a set of
KafkaTopic Kubernetes resources describing Kafka topics in-sync with corresponding Kafka topics.
Specifically, if a
Created, the Operator creates the topic
Deleted, the Operator deletes the topic
Changed, the Operator updates the topic
Working in the other direction, if a topic is:
Created within the Kafka cluster, the Operator creates a
Deleted from the Kafka cluster, the Operator deletes the
Changed in the Kafka cluster, the Operator updates the
This allows you to declare a
KafkaTopic as part of your application’s deployment and the Topic Operator will take care of creating the topic for you.
Your application just needs to deal with producing or consuming from the necessary topics.
If the topic is reconfigured or reassigned to different Kafka nodes, the
KafkaTopic will always be up to date.
The User Operator manages Kafka users for a Kafka cluster by watching for
KafkaUser resources that describe Kafka users and ensuring that they are configured properly in the Kafka cluster.
KafkaUseris created, the User Operator will create the user it describes
KafkaUseris deleted, the User Operator will delete the user it describes
KafkaUseris changed, the User Operator will update the user it describes
Unlike the Topic Operator, the User Operator does not sync any changes from the Kafka cluster with the Kubernetes resources. Unlike the Kafka topics which might be created by applications directly in Kafka, it is not expected that the users will be managed directly in the Kafka cluster in parallel with the User Operator.
The User Operator allows you to declare a
KafkaUser as part of your application’s deployment.
When the user is created, the user credentials are created in a
Your application needs to use the user and its credentials for authentication and to produce or consume messages.
In addition to managing credentials for authentication, the User Operator also manages authorization rules by including a description of the user’s rights in the
A deployment of Kafka components to a Kubernetes cluster using Strimzi is highly configurable through the application of custom resources. Custom resources are created as instances of the APIs added by CRDs to extend Kubernetes resources.
CRDs act as configuration instructions to describe the custom resources in a Kubernetes cluster, and are provided with Strimzi for each Kafka component used in a deployment. CRDs and custom resources are defined as YAML files. Example YAML files are provided with the Strimzi distribution.
In this chapter we look at how Kafka components are configured through custom resources, starting with common configuration points and then important configuration considerations specific to components.
After a new custom resource type is added to your cluster by installing a CRD, you can create instances of the resource based on its specification.
The custom resources for Strimzi components have common configuration properties, which are defined under
In this fragment from a Kafka topic custom resource, the
kind properties identify the associated CRD.
spec property shows configuration that defines the number of partitions and replicas for the topic.
Kafka topic custom resource
apiVersion: kafka.strimzi.io/v1beta1 kind: KafkaTopic metadata: name: my-topic labels: strimzi.io/cluster: my-cluster spec: partitions: 1 replicas: 1 # ...
There are many additional configuration options that can be incorporated into a YAML definition, some common and some specific to a particular component.
- Bootstrap servers
Bootstrap servers are used for host/port connection to a Kafka cluster for:
Kafka MirrorMaker producers and consumers
- CPU and memory resources
You request CPU and memory resources for components. Limits specify the maximum resources that can be consumed by a given container.
You define the logging level for the component. Logging can be defined directly (inline) or externally using a config map.
Healthcheck configuration introduces liveness and readiness probes to know when to restart a container (liveness) and when a container can accept traffic (readiness).
- JVM options
JVM options provide maximum and minimum memory allocation to optimize the performance of the component according to the platform it is running on.
- Pod scheduling
Pod schedules use affinity/anti-affinity rules to determine under what circumstances a pod is scheduled onto a node.
Example YAML showing common configuration
apiVersion: kafka.strimzi.io/v1beta1 kind: KafkaConnect metadata: name: my-cluster spec: # ... bootstrapServers: my-cluster-kafka-bootstrap:9092 resources: requests: cpu: 12 memory: 64Gi limits: cpu: 12 memory: 64Gi logging: type: inline loggers: connect.root.logger: "INFO" readinessProbe: initialDelaySeconds: 15 timeoutSeconds: 5 livenessProbe: initialDelaySeconds: 15 timeoutSeconds: 5 jvmOptions: "-Xmx": "2g" "-Xms": "2g" template: pod: affinity: nodeAffinity: requiredDuringSchedulingIgnoredDuringExecution: nodeSelectorTerms: - matchExpressions: - key: node-type operator: In values: - fast-network # ...
A kafka cluster comprises one or more brokers. For producers and consumers to be able to access topics within the brokers, Kafka configuration must define how data is stored in the cluster, and how the data is accessed. You can configure a Kafka cluster to run with multiple broker nodes across racks.
Kafka and ZooKeeper store data on disks.
Strimzi requires block storage provisioned through
StorageClass. The file system format for storage must be XFS or EXT4. Three types of data storage are supported:
- Ephemeral (Recommended for development only)
Ephemeral storage stores data for the lifetime of an instance. Data is lost when the instance is restarted.
Persistent storage relates to long-term data storage independent of the lifecycle of the instance.
- JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks, suitable for Kafka only)
JBOD allows you to use multiple disks to store commit logs in each broker.
The disk capacity used by an existing Kafka cluster can be increased if supported by the infrastructure.
Listeners configure how clients connect to a Kafka cluster.
The following types of listener are supported:
Plain listener that does not use encryption
TLS listener that uses encryption
External listener for access outside of Kubernetes
External listeners expose Kafka by specifying a
routeto use OpenShift Routes and HAProxy router
loadbalancerto use loadbalancer services
nodeportto use ports on the Kubernetes nodes
ingressto use Kubernetes Ingress and the NGINX Ingress Controller for Kubernetes.
- Rack awareness
Rack awareness is a configuration feature that distributes Kafka broker pods and topic replicas across racks, which represent data centers or racks in data centers, or availability zones.
Example YAML showing Kafka configuration
apiVersion: kafka.strimzi.io/v1beta1 kind: Kafka metadata: name: my-cluster spec: kafka: # ... listeners: tls: authentication: type: tls external: type: route authentication: type: tls # ... storage: type: persistent-claim size: 10000Gi # ... rack: topologyKey: failure-domain.beta.kubernetes.io/zone # ...
To set up MirrorMaker, a source and destination Kafka cluster must be running.
Consumer configuration to consume data from the source cluster
Producer configuration to output data to the target cluster
Consumer and producer configuration includes any authentication and encryption settings.
A whitelist defines the topics to mirror from a source to a target cluster.
Key Consumer configuration
- Consumer group identifier
The consumer group ID for a MirrorMaker consumer so that messages consumed are assigned to a consumer group.
- Number of consumer streams
A value to determine the number of consumers in a consumer group that consume a message in parallel.
- Offset commit interval
An offset commit interval to set the time between consuming and committing a message.
Key Producer configuration
- Cancel option for send failure
You can define whether a message send failure is ignored or MirrorMaker is terminated and recreated.
Example YAML showing MirrorMaker configuration
apiVersion: kafka.strimzi.io/v1beta1 kind: KafkaMirrorMaker metadata: name: my-mirror-maker spec: # ... consumer: bootstrapServers: my-source-cluster-kafka-bootstrap:9092 groupId: "my-group" numStreams: 2 offsetCommitInterval: 120000 # ... producer: # ... abortOnSendFailure: false # ... whitelist: "my-topic|other-topic" # ...
A basic Kafka Connect configuration requires a bootstrap address to connect to a Kafka cluster, and encryption and authentication details.
Kafka Connect instances are configured by default with the same:
Group ID for the Kafka Connect cluster
Kafka topic to store the connector offsets
Kafka topic to store connector and task status configurations
Kafka topic to store connector and task status updates
If multiple different Kafka Connect instances are used, these settings must reflect each instance.
Example YAML showing Kafka Connect configuration
apiVersion: kafka.strimzi.io/v1beta1 kind: KafkaConnect metadata: name: my-connect spec: # ... config: group.id: my-connect-cluster offset.storage.topic: my-connect-cluster-offsets config.storage.topic: my-connect-cluster-configs status.storage.topic: my-connect-cluster-status # ...
Connectors are configured separately from Kafka Connect. The configuration describes the source input data and target output data to feed into and out of Kafka Connect. The external source data must reference specific topics that will store the messages.
Kafka provides two built-in connectors:
FileStreamSourceConnectorstreams data from an external system to Kafka, reading lines from an input source and sending each line to a Kafka topic.
FileStreamSinkConnectorstreams data from Kafka to an external system, reading messages from a Kafka topic and creating a line for each in an output file.
You can add other connectors using connector plugins, which are a set of JAR files that define the implementation required to connect to certain type of external system.
You create a custom Kafka Connect image that uses new Kafka Connect plugins.
To create the image, you can use:
A Kafka Bridge configuration requires a bootstrap server specification for the Kafka cluster it connects to, as well as any encryption and authentication options required.
Kafka Bridge consumer and producer configuration is standard, as described in the Apache Kafka configuration documentation for consumers and Apache Kafka configuration documentation for producers.
HTTP-related configuration options set the port connection which the server listens on.
Example YAML showing Kafka Bridge configuration
apiVersion: kafka.strimzi.io/v1alpha1 kind: KafkaBridge metadata: name: my-bridge spec: # ... bootstrapServers: my-cluster-kafka:9092 http: port: 8080 consumer: config: auto.offset.reset: earliest producer: config: delivery.timeout.ms: 300000 # ...
A secure deployment of Strimzi can encompass:
Encryption for data exchange
Authentication to prove identity
Authorization to allow or decline actions executed by users
Strimzi supports Transport Layer Security (TLS), a protocol for encrypted communication.
Communication is always encrypted for communication between:
Operators and Kafka brokers
Operators and ZooKeeper nodes
You can also configure TLS between Kafka brokers and clients by applying TLS encryption to the listeners of the Kafka broker. TLS is specified for external clients when configuring an external listener.
Strimzi components and Kafka clients use digital certificates for encryption. The Cluster Operator sets up certificates to enable encryption within the Kafka cluster.
A TLS Certificate Authority (CA) issues certificates to authenticate the identity of a component. Strimzi verifies the certificates for the components against the CA certificate.
Strimzi components are verified against the cluster CA Certificate Authority (CA)
Kafka clients are verified against the clients CA Certificate Authority (CA)
As ZooKeeper does not have native support for TLS, a TLS sidecar deployment with ZooKeeper allows the Cluster Operator to provide data encryption and authentication between ZooKeeper nodes in a cluster.
Kafka listeners use authentication to ensure a secure client connection to the Kafka cluster.
Supported authentication mechanisms:
TLS client authentication
OAuth 2.0 token based authentication
The User Operator manages user credentials for TLS and SCRAM authentication, but not OAuth 2.0. For example, through the User Operator you can create a user representing a client that requires access to the Kafka cluster, and specify TLS as the authentication type.
Using OAuth 2.0 token based authentication, application clients can access Kafka brokers without exposing account credentials. An authorization server handles the granting of access and inquiries about access.
You can apply authorization to a Kafka cluster using
If applied to a Kafka cluster, authorization is enabled for all listeners used for client connection.
SimpleACLAuthorizer uses Access Control Lists (ACLs) to define which users have access to which resources.
Super users provide user access to all resources in a Kafka cluster or to a specific broker.
Monitoring data allows you to monitor the performance and health of Strimzi. You can configure your deployment to capture metrics data for analysis and notifications.
Metrics data is useful when investigating issues with connectivity and data delivery. For example, metrics data can identify under-replicated partitions or the rate at which messages are consumed. Alerting rules can provide time-critical notifications on such metrics through a specified communications channel. Monitoring visualizations present real-time metrics data to help determine when and how to update the configuration of your deployment. Example metrics configuration files are provided with Strimzi.
Distributed tracing complements the gathering of metrics data by providing a facility for end-to-end tracking of messages through Strimzi.
Strimzi can employ the following tools for metrics and monitoring:
Prometheus pulls metrics from Kafka, ZooKeeper and Kafka Connect clusters. The Prometheus Alertmanager plugin handles alerts and routes them to a notification service.
Kafka Exporter adds additional Prometheus metrics
Grafana provides dashboard visualizations of Prometheus metrics
Jaeger provides distributed tracing support to track transactions between applications
Prometheus can extract metrics data from Kafka, Kafka Connect and ZooKeeper.
In order to use Prometheus to obtain metrics data and provide notifications, Prometheus and the Prometheus Alertmanager plugin must be deployed. Kafka resources must also be deployed or redeployed with Prometheus configuration to expose the metrics data.
Prometheus scrapes the exposed metrics data for monitoring. Alertmanager issues notifications on conditions that indicate potential issues based on pre-defined alerting rules.
Sample metrics and alerting rules configuration files are provided with Strimzi. The sample alerting mechanism provided with Strimzi is configured to send notifications to a Slack channel.
Grafana uses the metrics data exposed by Prometheus to present dashboard visualizations for monitoring.
A deployment of Grafana is required, with Prometheus added as a data source. Example dashboards, supplied with Strimzi as JSON files, are imported through the Grafana interface to present monitoring data.
Kafka Exporter is an open source project to enhance monitoring of Apache Kafka brokers and clients. Kafka Exporter is deployed with a Kafka cluster to extract additional Prometheus metrics data from Kafka brokers related to offsets, consumer groups, consumer lag, and topics. You can use the Grafana dashboard provided to visualize the data collected by Prometheus from Kafka Exporter.
A sample configuration file, alerting rules and Grafana dashboard for Kafka Exporter are provided with Strimzi.
Within a Kafka deployment, distributed tracing using Jaeger is supported for:
MirrorMaker to trace messages from a source cluster to a target cluster
Kafka Connect to trace messages consumed and produced by Kafka Connect
Kafka Bridge to trace messages consumed and produced by Kafka Bridge, and HTTP requests from client applications
Template configuration properties are set for the Kafka resources, which describe tracing environment variables.
Tracing for Kafka clients
Client applications, such as Kafka producers and consumers, can also be set up so that transactions are monitored. Clients are configured with a tracing profile, and a tracer is initialized for the client application to use.