Explaining the Difference between Kafka and Kinesis

The aim of this page is to explain real-time data streaming services offered by major cloud providers based on the particular example of choosing between AWS Kinesis and Kafka. I knew there was a difference, but for other providers, I was under the (wrong) impression that GCP pub/sub or Azure eventhubs are just wrappers around Kafka. Just a few notes.

Pavol Kutaj
2 min readApr 16, 2024

Cloud providers offer various real-time streaming services:

  • AWS: Kinesis Data Streams (AWS-developed, managed service)
  • Azure: Azure Event Hubs (Microsoft-developed, managed service)
  • GCP: Cloud Pub/Sub (Google-developed, managed service)

Each cloud provider prioritizes its own service but also acknowledges Kafka’s popularity:

  • Azure: Offers managed Kafka clusters through Azure HDInsight.
  • GCP: Relies on third-party solutions for Kafka integration.
  • AWS: Provides Amazon Managed Streaming Kafka (MSK) for running Kafka clusters within AWS.

Cloud-specific vs. Kafka considerations:

  • Cloud-specific services (Event Hubs, Pub/Sub, Kinesis Data Streams): Easier setup and management, often integrated with other services within the same cloud ecosystem.
  • Kafka (open-source): Requires more setup but offers wider tools and integrations within the Kafka ecosystem. Better for specific features or existing Kafka investment.

Pub/Sub is not directly Kafka under the hood:

  • Both offer similar real-time messaging functionalities but have distinct architectures and implementations.


Question: What are the real-time data streaming services offered by major cloud providers?


  • AWS: Kinesis Data Streams
  • Azure: Azure Event Hubs
  • GCP: Cloud Pub/Sub

Question: How do cloud providers approach Kafka?

Answer: Each cloud provider prioritizes its own service but also offers options for using Kafka within their environments (managed Kafka clusters or third-party solutions).

Question: What are the pros and cons of cloud-specific streaming services vs Kafka?


  • Cloud-specific services: Easier setup, better integration within the cloud ecosystem.
  • Kafka: More setup required, but wider range of tools and integrations.

Question: Is Pub/Sub related to Kafka?

Answer: No, Pub/Sub is a Google-developed service, distinct from Kafka in architecture and implementation. While both offer similar functionalities, they are not the same technology.



Pavol Kutaj

Today I Learnt | Infrastructure Support Engineer at snowplow.io with a passion for cloud infrastructure/terraform/python/docs. More at https://pavol.kutaj.com