🎧 Streaming Analytics and Real-Time Signal Processing with Apache Kafka

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Imagine you can process and analyze real-time event streams for intelligence to mitigate cyber threats or keep soldiers constantly alerted to risks and precautions they should take based on events. In this episode, Jeffrey Needham (Senior Solutions Engineer, Advanced Technology Group, Confluent) shares use cases on how Apache Kafka® can be used for real-time signal processing to mitigate risk before it arises. He also explains the classic Kafka transactional processing defaults and the distinction between transactional and analytic processing.

Jeffrey is part of the customer solutions and innovations division (CSID), which involves designing event streaming platforms and innovations to improve productivity for organizations by pushing the envelope of Kafka for real-time signal processing.

What is signal intelligence? Jeffrey explains that it's not always affiliated with the military. Signal processing improves your operational or situational awareness by understanding the petabyte datasets of clickstream data, or the telemetry coming in from sensors, which could be the satellite or sensor arrays along a water pipeline. That is, bringing in event data from external sources to analyze, and then finding the pattern in the series of events to make informed decisions.

Conventional On-Line Analytical Processing (OLAP) or data warehouse platforms evolved out of the transaction processing model. However, when analytics or even AI processing is applied to any data set, these algorithms never look at a single column or row, but look for patterns within millions of rows of transactionally derived data. Transaction-centric solutions are designed to update and delete specific rows and columns in an “ACID” compliant manner, which makes them inefficient and usually unaffordable at scale because this capability is less critical when the analytic goal is to look for a pattern within millions or even billions of these rows.

Kafka was designed as a step forward from classic transaction processing technologies, which can also be configured in a way that’s optimized for signal processing high velocities of noisy or jittery data streams, in order to make sense, in real-time, of a dynamic, non-transactional environment.

With its immutable, write-append commit logs, Kafka functions as a flight data recorder, which remains resilient even when network communications, or COMMs, are poor or nonexistent. Jeffrey shares the disconnected edge project he has been working on—smart soldier, which runs Kafka on a Raspberry Pi and x64-based handhelds. These devices are ergonomically integrated on each squad member to provide real-time visibility into the soldiers’ activities or situations. COMMs permitting, the topic data is then mirrored upstream and aggregated at multiple tiers—mobile command post, battalion, HQ—to provide ever-increasing views of the entire battlefield, or whatever the sensor array is monitoring, including the all important supply chain. Jeffrey also shares a couple of other use cases on how Kafka can be used for signal intelligence, including cybersecurity and protecting national critical infrastructure.

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