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14,664 views|11,157 comparisons
95% willing to recommend
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14,445 views|9,689 comparisons
94% willing to recommend
Comparison Buyer's Guide
Executive Summary
Updated on Mar 17, 2022

We performed a comparison between Apache Kafka and IBM MQ based on our users’ reviews in four categories. After reading all of the collected data, you can find our conclusion below.

  • Ease of Deployment: Apache Kafka users had mixed reviews regarding its setup. Many reviewers found the initial setup to be a relatively straightforward process, but several found the initial setup to be difficult. IBM MQ reviewers reported an easy initial setup but noted that the cluster implementation and configuration required more advanced technical knowledge.
  • Features: Users of both products were for the most part satisfied with their scalability, stability, and ability to handle high volumes of data. Several users did not find the interfaces to be user-friendly. A few IBM MQ reviewers experienced difficulties working with clusters and felt that the monitoring needed improvement.
  • Pricing: Apache Kafka is an open-source solution and there are no fees involved. Several IBM MQ users feel that the product is expensive.
  • Service and Support: Apache Kafka is an open-source service but does offer paid support on a subscription-based model. There is also an active open-source community. IBM MQ users report being very satisfied with the service and support they receive.

Comparison Results: Both products are moderately easy to install, robust, and high-performing. The main advantage of Apache Kafka is that it is free of charge but still offers adequate technical support solutions.

To learn more, read our detailed Apache Kafka vs. IBM MQ Report (Updated: May 2024).
772,422 professionals have used our research since 2012.
Q&A Highlights
Question: What are the differences between Apache Kafka and IBM MQ?
Answer: The choice depends on your use case.
Featured Review
Quotes From Members
We asked business professionals to review the solutions they use.
Here are some excerpts of what they said:
"Apache Kafka is an open-source solution that can be used for messaging or event processing.""Excellent speeds for publishing messages faster.""The solution is very scalable. We started with a cluster of three and then scaled it to seven.""The most valuable feature is that it can handle high volume.""As a software developer, I have found Apache Kafka's support to be the most valuable...The solution is easy to integrate with any of our systems.""Kafka can process messages in real-time, making it useful for applications that require near-instantaneous processing.""I like Kafka's flexibility, stability, reliability, and robustness.""It is a stable solution...A lot of my experience indicates that Apache Kafka is scalable."

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"The solution is stable.""The message queue and the integration with any development platform/language, i.e., NET and Java, are the most valuable features.""The most valuable feature of IBM MQ is transaction processing.""It is very robust and very scalable.""We use our routing feature when the request is coming from the business application. The request goes to the distributive side and it is routed to the right claim instance.""Assists with our apps and has great message processing.""The system integration is good.""We have found the MQ messaging topologies valuable."

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"In Apache Kafka, it is currently difficult to create a consumer.""Kafka's interface could also use some work. Some of our products are in C, and we don't have any libraries to use with C. From an interface perspective, we had a library from the readies. And we are streaming some of the products we built to readies. That is one of the requirements. It would be good to have those libraries available in a future release for our C++ clients or public libraries, so we can include them in our product and build on that.""There are some latency problems with Kafka.""If the graphical user interface was easier for the Kafka administration it would be much better. Right now, you need to use the program with the command-line interface. If the graphical user interface was easier, it could be a better product.""As an open-source project, Kafka is still fairly young and has not yet built out the stability and features that other open-source projects have acquired over the many years. If done correctly, Kafka can also take over the stream-processing space that technologies such as Apache Storm cover.""Prioritization of messages in Apache Kafka could improve.""They need to have a proper portal to do everything because, at this moment, Kafka is lagging in this regard.""We struggled a bit with the built-in data transformations because it was a challenge to get them up and running the way we wanted."

More Apache Kafka Cons →

"The solution isn't free. There are other solutions, like RabbitMQ, which are open source and absolutely free to use. It's one reason we are moving away from IBM.""Presenting and maybe having some different options for different user experiences based on the administrative duties that you have to do as an app manager or configure the server or security would be an improvement.""It would be great if the dashboard had additional features like a board design.""It could provide more monitoring tools and some improvement to the UI. I would also like to see more throughput in future versions.""The main issue we are having with the solution is due to the connection dropouts which have been going on for a long time now.""The installation of product upgrades and patches is very difficult. It requires the use of the IBM Installation Manager (IM).""It's hard to put in a nutshell, but it's sort of developed as more of an on-premise solution. It hasn't moved much away from that.""There are things within the actual product itself that can be improved, such as limitations on message length, size, etc. There is no standardized message length outside of IBM. Each of the implementations of the MQ series or support of that functionality varies between various suppliers, and because of that, it is very difficult to move from one to the other. We have IBM MQ, but we couldn't use it because the platform that was speaking to MQ didn't support the message length that was standard within IBM MQ. So, we had to use a different product to do exactly the same thing. So, perhaps, there could be more flexibility in the standards around the message queue. If we had been able to increase the message queue size within the IBM MQ implementation, we wouldn't have had to go over to another competing product because the system that was using MQ messaging required the ability to hold messages that were far larger than the IBM MQ standard. So, there could be a bit more flexibility in the structuring. It has as such nothing to do with the IBM implementation of MQ. It is just that the standard that is being put out onto the market doesn't actually stipulate those types of things."

More IBM MQ Cons →

Pricing and Cost Advice
  • "I would not subscribe to the Confluent platform, but rather stay on the free open source version. The extra cost wasn't justified."
  • "When starting to look at a distributed message system, look for a cloud solution first. It is an easier entry point than an on-premises hardware solution."
  • "It is open source software."
  • "Licensing issues are not applicable. Apache licensing makes it simple with almost zero cost for the software itself."
  • "Apache Kafka is open-source and can be used free of charge."
  • "Kafka is open-source and it is cheaper than any other product."
  • "Kafka is more reasonably priced than IBM MQ."
  • "The solution is open source; it's free to use."
  • More Apache Kafka Pricing and Cost Advice →

  • "It's super expensive, so ask them if they can consolidate some other licensing costs. But, IBM is IBM, so I guess we'll pay for it."
  • "IBM MQ has a flexible license model based on the Processor Value Unit (PVU) and I recommend it."
  • "Use the new and lightweight version (Liberty) to lower licensing costs. It is also easier to upgrade/maintain."
  • "I think the pricing is reasonable, especially with IIB as a part of it."
  • "Pricing could be better, as with all IBM products. But their performance in production, along with security and scalability, will pay returns in the long run."
  • "99.999 percent availability for less than a penny per message over the past 25 years. IBM MQ is the cheapest software in the IBM software portfolio, and it is one of the best."
  • "IBM MQ appliance has pricing options, but they are costly."
  • "In terms of cost, IBM MQ is slightly on the higher side."
  • More IBM MQ Pricing and Cost Advice →

    Use our free recommendation engine to learn which Message Queue (MQ) Software solutions are best for your needs.
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    Answers from the Community
    Netanya Carmi
    Carlos Bittrich - PeerSpot reviewerCarlos Bittrich
    Real User

    It is like comparing apples to oranges. Mq is focus on enabling the communication between two different programs in different systems and guaranteeing the delivery of the messages where Kafka has specialized on the generation of events by a source system that are catch by "listener" programs. 

    MQ is point to point, if the receiving program reads the message from the queue, it dissapears, in the case of Kafka as the event is read by a "listener" program, the event is still there as there could be more then one program that has subscribed to the so called "topic".

    So, as mention in another answer, it depends from the use case. If you have for example a front end program that communicated with a very bad bandwith to another program and you have to send critical data, the best solution could be MQ. If you have an "card stolen" application that needs to alert different systems, you could publish the "stolen" event in the front end app and have any number of system listening to this event.

    Of course it is also valid the argument that Kafka is open source and IBM MQ is propietary but if you are considering a production environment you can find different vendors (including IBM) that provide products based on Kafka open source. 

    Questions from the Community
    Top Answer:Apache Kafka is open source and can be used for free. It has very good log management and has a way to store the data used for analytics. Apache Kafka is very good if you have a high number of users… more »
    Top Answer:Apache Kafka is an open-source solution that can be used for messaging or event processing.
    Top Answer:Hi As someone with 45+ years of experience in the Transaction and Message Processing world, I have seen many "MQ" solutions that have come into the market place. From my perspective, while each… more »
    Top Answer:IBM MQ has a great reputation behind it, and this solution is very robust with great stability. It is easy to use, simple to configure and integrates well with our enterprise ecosystem and protocols… more »
    Top Answer:The feature I find most effective for ensuring message delivery without loss is the backup threshold. This feature allows for automatic retries of transactional messages within a specified threshold.
    Average Words per Review
    Average Words per Review
    ActiveMQ logo
    Compared 28% of the time.
    VMware Tanzu Data Services logo
    Compared 10% of the time.
    Red Hat AMQ logo
    Compared 6% of the time.
    PubSub+ Event Broker logo
    Compared 6% of the time.
    Amazon SQS logo
    Compared 5% of the time.
    Also Known As
    WebSphere MQ
    Learn More

    Apache Kafka is a highly regarded open-source, distributed event streaming platform and Message Queue (MQ) software solution that is valued and trusted worldwide by many of the top fortune 100 companies. It is considered one of the most reliable Message Queue (MQ) software solutions available in the marketplace today.

    Enterprise organizations rely on streaming platforms and MQ software solutions to process the continuous flow of high-performance data pipelines, mission-critical applications, and data integration. Apache Kafka makes it easy to process and distribute messages from one application to another from multiple environments with super-fast speeds and very high reliability.

    Additionally, in place of the usual command line processes regarding administration and management tasks, Apache Kafka supplies five exemplary core APIs for both Scala and Java:

    • Kafka Streams API can be used to facilitate stream processing applications and microservices. Input is seamlessly read from one or more topics and will initiate output to one or more topics, easily converting the input streams to output streams.
    • Kafka Connect API enables users to develop and run reusable data import/export connectors that are able to read and write streams of events from external operating systems and applications, making integration with Apache Kafka simple and streamlined.
    • Consumer API allows users to subscribe and read one or more topics and to process the stream of events produced to them.
    • Admin API gives users the ability to examine and manage brokers, topics, and various other Kafka topics.
    • Producer API using this core element, users are able to write and publish a stream of events to one or more Kafka topics.

    Apache Kafka Benefits

    Apache Kafka has many valuable benefits. Some of its most valuable benefits include:

    • Load Shifting
    • Scalability
    • Decoupling
    • High Throughput
    • High Availability
    • Safe Permanent Storage
    • Excellent Integration Capabilities
    • Large, Reliable, Open-Source Community
    • Mission Critical
    • Wide Array of Available Learning Opportunities

    Not only is Apache Kafka a robust messaging queue it is also a tremendously durable and reliable streaming platform that is fully capable of securely delivering more than one million messages per second, which amounts to trillions of success delivered messages in one day.

    Reviews from Real Users

    “From my experience with Apache Kafka, one of the most notable advantages is its ability to maintain a comprehensive record of historical data that includes every update, alteration, and version of information, unlike a conventional relational database. This feature allows for seamless tracking and analysis of the progression and transformation of the data over time, enabling users to easily review and analyze the history of the information.” Dimitrios Z., Enterprise Architect at Smals vzw

    “We are currently on a legacy version and have found that the latest version of Kafka has solved many of the issues we were facing, such as sequencing, memory management, and more. Additionally, the fact that it is open source is a major benefit.” Pratul S. Software Engineer at a financial services firm

    “The solution has improved our functionality; it's one of the best streaming platforms I've used.” Sreekar N., Co-Founder at Attaika

      IBM MQ is a middleware product used to send or exchange messages across multiple platforms, including applications, systems, files, and services via MQs (messaging queues). This solution helps simplify the creation of business applications, and also makes them easier to maintain. IBM MQ is security-rich, has high performance, and provides a universal messaging backbone with robust connectivity. In addition, it also integrates easily with existing IT assets by using an SOA (service oriented architecture).

      IBM MQ can be deployed:

      • On-premises
      • In the cloud
      • Hybrid cloud

      IBM MQ supports the following APIs:

      • MQI (Message Queue Interface)
      • REST
      • .NET
      • MQTT
      • JMS
      • IBM MQ Light

      IBM MQ Features

      Some of the most powerful IBM MQ features include:

      • High availability
      • Stability and scalability
      • Flexible deployment options
      • Uniform clusters
      • Automated and intelligent workload balancing
      • Broad language, API, and messaging protocol support
      • Administrative features that simplify messaging management
      • Open standards development tools
      • Simple management tools

      IBM MQ Benefits

      Some of the benefits of using IBM MQ include:

      • Multi-style messaging: IBM MQ supports simple multi-style messaging, making it easy to connect diverse systems with support for message queuing, transactions, and more.

      • Reduced risk: With IBM MQ you will never lose a message, and messages are never delivered more than once.

      • Cloud-native: Because IBM MQ has a minimal infrastructure, it is suitable to be cloud-native, and therefore has the capability to always remain on.

      • Available anywhere: Using IBM MQ, you have access to secure messaging anywhere, at any time.

      • Secure: IBM MQ makes sure to keep your data safe by using TLS secured communications, providing access identity management, message-level security, and more measures to protect your information.

      • Easy for application programmers: To use IBM MQ, application programmers do not need to have any knowledge of communications programming.

      • Technical support: IBM MQ has a large user community and also provides support 24/7 as needed.

      Reviews from Real Users

      Below are some reviews and helpful feedback written by IBM MQ users who are currently using the solution.

      PeerSpot user Sunil S., a manager at a financial services firm, explains that they never lose messages are never lost in transit, mentioning that he can store messages and forward them as required: "Whenever payments are happening, such as incoming payments to the bank, we need to notify the customer. With MQ we can actually do that asynchronously. We don't want to notify the customer for each and every payment but, rather, more like once a day. That kind of thing can be enabled with the help of MQ."

      Another PeerSpot reviewer, Luis L. who is a solutions director at Thesys Technologies, says that IBM MQ is a valuable solution and is "A stable and reliable software that offers good integration between different systems."

      The head of operations at a financial services firm notes that "I have found the solution to be very robust. It has a strong reputation, is easy to use, simple to configure in our enterprise software, and supports all the protocols that we use."

      In addition, a Software Engineer at a financial services firm praises the security benefits of it and states that “it has the most security features I've seen in a communication solution. Security is the most important thing for our purposes."

    Sample Customers
    Uber, Netflix, Activision, Spotify, Slack, Pinterest
    Deutsche Bahn, Bon-Ton, WestJet, ARBURG, Northern Territory Government, Tata Steel Europe, Sharp Corporation
    Top Industries
    Financial Services Firm26%
    Computer Software Company18%
    Media Company8%
    Financial Services Firm29%
    Computer Software Company13%
    Manufacturing Company6%
    Financial Services Firm39%
    Insurance Company9%
    Computer Software Company6%
    Financial Services Firm37%
    Computer Software Company13%
    Manufacturing Company6%
    Company Size
    Small Business35%
    Midsize Enterprise15%
    Large Enterprise51%
    Small Business17%
    Midsize Enterprise11%
    Large Enterprise72%
    Small Business9%
    Midsize Enterprise9%
    Large Enterprise82%
    Small Business15%
    Midsize Enterprise11%
    Large Enterprise74%
    Buyer's Guide
    Apache Kafka vs. IBM MQ
    May 2024
    Find out what your peers are saying about Apache Kafka vs. IBM MQ and other solutions. Updated: May 2024.
    772,422 professionals have used our research since 2012.

    Apache Kafka is ranked 1st in Message Queue (MQ) Software with 78 reviews while IBM MQ is ranked 2nd in Message Queue (MQ) Software with 158 reviews. Apache Kafka is rated 8.0, while IBM MQ is rated 8.4. The top reviewer of Apache Kafka writes "Real-time processing and reliable for data integrity". On the other hand, the top reviewer of IBM MQ writes "Offers the ability to batch metadata transfers between systems that support MQ as the communication method". Apache Kafka is most compared with Amazon SQS, Red Hat AMQ, Anypoint MQ, PubSub+ Event Broker and VMware Tanzu Data Services, whereas IBM MQ is most compared with ActiveMQ, VMware Tanzu Data Services, Red Hat AMQ, PubSub+ Event Broker and Amazon SQS. See our Apache Kafka vs. IBM MQ report.

    See our list of best Message Queue (MQ) Software vendors.

    We monitor all Message Queue (MQ) Software reviews to prevent fraudulent reviews and keep review quality high. We do not post reviews by company employees or direct competitors. We validate each review for authenticity via cross-reference with LinkedIn, and personal follow-up with the reviewer when necessary.