Analytics is often described as one of the biggest challenges associated with big data, but even before that step can happen, data has to be ingested and made available to enterprise users. That’s where Apache Kafka comes in.

Originally developed at LinkedIn, Kafka is an open-source system for managing real-time streams of data from websites, applications and sensors.

Essentially, it acts as a sort of enterprise “central nervous system” that collects high-volume data about things like user activity, logs, application metrics, stock tickers and device instrumentation, for example, and makes it available as a real-time stream for consumption by enterprise users.

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