First-Ever Pulsar Summit Virtual Conference 2020 | June 17th and 18th

Get started
Install and upgrade
Manage and monitor
Pulsar connector
Get started
Release notes


StreamNative develops and maintains KoP (Kafka on Pulsar) to support Kafka protocol.

KoP brings the native Apache Kafka protocol support to Apache Pulsar by introducing a Kafka protocol handler on Pulsar brokers. By adding the KoP protocol handler to your existing Pulsar cluster, you can now migrate your existing Kafka applications and services to Pulsar without modifying the code. This enables Kafka applications to leverage Pulsar’s powerful features, such as:

  • Streamlined operations with enterprise-grade multi-tenancy.
  • Simplified operations with a rebalance-free architecture.
  • Infinite event stream retention with Apache BookKeeper and tiered storage.
  • Serverless event processing with Pulsar Functions.

We believe that providing a native Kafka protocol on Apache Pulsar will reduce the barriers for people adopting Pulsar to achieve their business success. By integrating two popular event streaming ecosystems, KoP unlocks new use cases. Customers can leverage advantages from each ecosystem and build a truly unified event streaming platform with Apache Pulsar to accelerate the development of real-time applications and services.

KoP, implemented as a Pulsar protocol handler plugin with protocol name "kafka", is loaded when Pulsar broker starts.

Try download StreamNative Platform, and get started on it.

If you already have a Pulsar deployed, You can follow migrate instruction to migrate to StreamNative Platform.

The following figure illustrates how we add the Kafka protocol support within Pulsar. We are introducing a new Protocol Handler which implements the Kafka wire protocol by leveraging the existing components (such as topic discovery, the distributed log library - ManagedLedger, cursors and etc) that Pulsar already has.


In Kafka, all the topics are stored in one flat namespace. But in Pulsar, topics are organized in hierarchical multi-tenant namespaces. We introduce a setting kafkaNamespace in broker configuration to allow the administrator configuring to map Kafka topics to Pulsar topics.

In order to let Kafka users leverage the multi-tenancy feature of Apache Pulsar, a Kafka user can specify a Pulsar tenant and namespace as its SASL username when it uses SASL authentication mechanism to authenticate a Kafka client.

Message ID and offset

In Kafka, each message is assigned with an offset once it is successfully produced to a topic partition. In Pulsar, each message is assigned with a MessageID. The message id consists of 3 components, ledger-id, entry-id, and batch-index. We are using the same approach in Pulsar-Kafka wrapper to convert a Pulsar MessageID to an offset and vice versa.


Both a Kafka message and a Pulsar message have key, value, timestamp, and headers (note: this is called ‘properties’ in Pulsar). We convert these fields automatically between Kafka messages and Pulsar messages.

Topic lookup

We use the same topic lookup approach for the Kafka request handler as the Pulsar request handler. The request handler does topic discovery to lookup all the ownerships for the requested topic partitions and responds with the ownership information as part of Kafka TopicMetadata back to Kafka clients.

Produce Messages

When the Kafka request handler receives produced messages from a Kafka client, it converts Kafka messages to Pulsar messages by mapping the fields (i.e. key, value, timestamp and headers) one by one, and uses the ManagedLedger append API to append those converted Pulsar messages to BookKeeper. Converting Kafka messages to Pulsar messages allows existing Pulsar applications to consume messages produced by Kafka clients.

Consume Messages

When the Kafka request handler receives a consumer request from a Kafka client, it opens a non-durable cursor to read the entries starting from the requested offset. The Kafka request handler converts the Pulsar messages back to Kafka messages to allow existing Kafka applications to consume the messages produced by Pulsar clients.

Group coordinator & offsets management

The most challenging part is to implement the group coordinator and offsets management. Because Pulsar doesn’t have a centralized group coordinator for assigning partitions to consumers of a consumer group and managing offsets for each consumer group. In Pulsar, the partition assignment is managed by broker on a per-partition basis, and the offset management is done by storing the acknowledgements in cursors by the owner broker of that partition.

It is difficult to align the Pulsar model with the Kafka model. Hence, for the sake of providing full compatibility with Kafka clients, we implemented the Kafka group coordinator by storing the coordinator group changes and offsets in a system topic calledpublic/kafka/__offsets in Pulsar. This allows us to bridge the gap between Pulsar and Kafka and allows people to use existing Pulsar tools and policies to manage subscriptions and monitor Kafka consumers. We add a background thread in the implemented group coordinator to periodically sync offset updates from the system topic to Pulsar cursors. Hence a Kafka consumer group is effectively treated as a Pulsar subscription. All the existing Pulsar toolings can be used for managing Kafka consumer groups as well.

Supported version

Currently, KoP has the 0.2.0 version.

KoP version Kafka client version Pulsar version
0.2.0 Kafka client 2.0.0 Pulsar 2.5.0

More information