What is Apache NiFi?

What is Apache NiFi used for?

Apache NiFi is an open source software project designed to automate the flow of data between systems. It's a powerful and flexible data processing tool that was originally developed by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and later donated to the Apache Software Foundation, where it has become a popular tool for building robust data pipelines that can handle diverse data sources and destinations. 

At HotWax Systems, we use Apache NiFi extensively for both internal and client projects due to its efficacy in performing in high volume production environments, intuitive interface, and ability to seamlessly communicate with external systems.

What are the benefits of NiFi?

Apache NiFi offers numerous benefits that make it a preferred data automation choice for many organizations:

  1. Ease of use: NiFi provides an intuitive, user-friendly interface for designing, controlling, and monitoring data flows.
  2. Scalability: NiFi can easily handle large volumes of data.
  3. Flexibility: It supports a wide range of data formats, which allows integration with almost any system.
  4. Integration: NiFi easily integrates with existing systems and tools, so workflows can stay smooth and uninterrupted. 
  5. Security: NiFi offers robust security features that protect sensitive data.
  6. Data tracking and provenance: It provides detailed data tracking that tracks nearly everything in your dataflows.
  7. Enrichment: Apache NiFi can help improve the quality of data by adding additional information that then makes it more useful when used for analysis.
  8. Transformation: Because it’s a solution that helps integrate systems and the flow of data between them, it can also assist in the transformation of that data into a more compatible format depending on the system(s) it’s interacting with.

Graph with eight benefits of Apache NiFi

What is the difference between Apache NiFi and Kafka?

Even though both Apache NiFi and Apache Kafka handle data, they serve different purposes and are used for different things:

  • NiFi
    1. Designed for data flow automation that allows users to design and manage data pipelines.
    2. Best for complex data ingestion, transformation, and integration tasks.
  • Kafka
    1. A distributed streaming platform used for building high performance data pipelines and streaming applications. 
    2. Ideal for real-time data streaming, event sourcing, and building high-throughput messaging systems.

What is the difference between Airflow and NiFi?

Apache Airflow and Apache NiFi are both workflow automation tools, but they have distinct focuses:

  1. NiFi:
    • Focuses on data flow automation, enables users to build and manage data pipelines.
    • Offers a highly interactive user interface for designing data flows.
    • Extensible with built-in capabilities for data ingestion, transformation, and routing.
  2. Airflow:
    • Designed for complex workflow orchestration.
    • Uses Python.
    • Primarily used for orchestrating tasks and their dependencies to run at specific times or intervals.

When to use NiFi vs. Airflow vs. Kafka?

While all three of these tools are open source and revolve around data, they each have particular use cases where they shine:

  1. NiFi:
    • Because it’s a data processing engine that can be used to extract, transform, and load data from a large variety of sources, NiFi is best used for things like data ingestion, data cleansing, and data enrichment.
    • If you’re looking for a solution for applications that require data to be extracted, transformed, and loaded from a variety of sources, then Apache NiFi is an excellent choice.
  2. Airflow:
    • This workflow management system can be used to schedule and manage complex data pipelines and applications such as ETL, data warehousing, and machine learning.
    • If you’re looking for a solution for applications that require complex data pipelines to be scheduled and managed, then Apache Airflow is a good choice.
  3. Kafka:
    • This distributed streaming platform can be used to store and process large amounts of data in real time and is often used for applications such as event streaming, real-time analytics, and data integration.
    • If you’re looking for a solution for applications that require real-time processing of large amounts of data, then Apache Kafka is a good choice.

Graph comparing when to use Apache NiFi, Airflow, and Kafka

In summary, Apache NiFi is a versatile tool for automating data flows between a wide variety of external systems in high production environments, and has special strengths in real-time data processing and integration.

If you’re looking for an implementation specialist to help configure and deploy a robust data automation and integration solution for your business, reach out to us and we’ll schedule a discovery call to learn more about your business needs.

DATE: Jun 18, 2024
AUTHOR: HotWax Systems
Open Source Software