Two years ago, Neha Narkhede co-founded a company called Confluent to build on her team’s work with Apache Kafka. In this interview, we talk about how lots of companies are deploying Kafka and how that has led to a very busy GitHub repo.
Narkhede will keynote at All Things Open in Raleigh, NC next week.
It was a great experience and a natural extension of the mission that my co-founders and I had been working on for the past several years—of bringing Apache Kafka and our vision for a new future for a company’s data architecture built around streaming data to the forefront.
Today, 35% of the Fortune 500 and thousands of companies worldwide use Kafka. There is a huge opportunity for Confluent to help companies leverage streaming data for mission-critical applications, gain insights to drive key business decisions in seconds instead of hours, react to critical events affecting business continuity in real time, and do that while vastly simplifying the operational footprint of their data architecture.
There are several things to think about while building a company, but the ones that are particularly critical for building a successful company based on an open source technology are evangelism, community influence, the business model, and having the pragmatism to balance investment across these areas. Open source technology greatly simplifies the adoption problem for a new technology and empowers developers to use the technology that is right for building products. Essentially, the developer is the new buyer.
There are many reasons Apache Kafka has taken off, but one of the major ones is that it offers the best solution to a problem that all companies have: processing data in real time. Apache Kafka is a distributed streaming platform used for building real-time data pipelines and streaming applications. It is horizontally scalable, fault-tolerant, wicked fast, and runs in production in thousands of companies. The other big reason for Kafka’s success is its growing and thriving community. And last but not the least, Kafka became very popular because it just works.
Apache Kafka contributors come from a wide variety of companies, simply because Kafka is applicable to and adopted by companies in a diverse set of industries—from financial services to retail, consumer tech to enterprise tech, and many more. From day one, we have always been focused on building a collaborative and engaged community.