Setting up Kafka ETL: 3 Easy Methods

on Data Integration, ETL, Tutorials • October 12th, 2020 • Write for Hevo

Kafka ETL_Featured Image

With Traditional ETL no longer being able to meet the demands of the future, businesses across the world have moved on to the paradigm of real-time streaming ETL, which works in a distributed manner and allow transforming and enriching data in real-time and at a large scale. Setting up such robust ETL pipelines that bring in data from a diverse set of sources can be done using Kafka with ease. Organisations use Kafka for a variety of applications such as building ETL pipelines, data synchronisation, real-time streaming and much more.

This article aims at providing you with a step-by-step guide to help you set up Kafka ETL using various methods. Through this article, you will get a deep understanding of the tools and techniques being used & thus, it will help you hone your skills further. It will help you build a customised ETL pipeline for your organisation.

Table of Contents

What is Kafka?

Kafka ETL-Kafka Logo.

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Apache Kafka is a popular real-time data streaming software that allows users to store, read and analyze streaming data using its open-source framework. Being open-source, it is available free of cost to users. Leveraging its distributed nature, users can achieve high throughput, minimal latency, high computation power, etc. and handle large volumes of data with ease.

Written in Scala, Kafka supports bringing in data from a large variety of sources and stores them in the form of “topics” by processing the information stream. It uses two functions, namely “Producers”, which act as an interface between data source and topics, and “Consumers”, which allow users to read and transfer the data stored in Kafka. You can also read our article about kafka schema registry.

Key features of Kafka:

  • Scalability: Kafka has exceptional scalability and can be scaled easily without downtime.
  • Data Transformation: Kafka offers KStream and KSQL (in case of Confluent Kafka) for on the fly data transformation.
  • Fault-Tolerant: Kafka uses brokers to replicate data and persists the data to make it a fault-tolerant system.
  • Security: Kafka can be combined with various security measures like Kerberos to stream data securely.
  • Performance: Kafka is distributed, partitioned, and has very high throughput for publishing and subscribing to the message.

For further information on Kafka, you can check the official website here.

What is ETL?

Kafka ETL-ETL Process.
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ETL stands for Extract, Transform and Load and refers to the process of integrating data from a variety of sources, transforming it into an analysis-ready form and loading it into the desired destination, usually a data warehouse. It helps bring in data and store it in a centralized location, thereby allowing users to use diverse data for analysis.

ETL consists of 3 stages:

  • Extract: It is the process of integrating structured and unstructured data from a diverse set of sources such as databases, data warehouses, marketing tools, CRMs, mobile apps, etc. 
  • Transform: It is the most critical part of an ETL process and refers to the process of enriching and transforming data into an analysis-ready form using techniques such as sorting, cleaning, removing redundancy, verifying, etc. 
  • Load: It refers to the process of loading data into the desired destination in a ready-to-use form. Data can be loaded either entirely using the full-loading technique or at scheduled intervals using the incremental loading technique.   

Simplify Kafka ETL with Hevo’s No-code Data Pipelines

Method 1: Using Kafka Connect to Set Up Kafka ETL

Kafka Connect allows users to build a highly scalable, fault-tolerant data pipeline that helps to transfer data in and out of Kafka in real-time. Making use of the JDBC connector to import data and HDFS connector to export data from Kafka, Kafka Connect lets users copy their data from a source of their choice to a destination with minimal latency.

Method 2: Using Kafka Stream APIs to Set Up Kafka ETL

Kafka Stream APIs, along with Kafka Connect, allows users to set up real-time streaming Kafka ETL in no time. With the help of various stream processors provided by Stream APIs, users can perform various operations to enrich the data they’ve loaded into Kafka using the connect framework and provide ready-to-use data in real-time.

Method 3: Using Hevo Data to Set Up Kafka ETL

Hevo Data an Automated Data Pipeline, a No-code Data Pipeline can set up the ETL process to transfer data from Kafka to the Data Warehouses, Databases or any other destination of your choice in a hassle-free manner. You can easily ingest data from your Kafka account using Hevo’s Data Pipelines and ETL it to any destination without writing a single line of code. Hevo’s end-to-end Data Management service automates the process of not only loading data from Kafka but also transforming and enriching it into an analysis-ready form.

Hevo supports direct integrations with Kafka and 100+ sources (including 40 free sources) and its Data Mapping feature works continuously to ETL your data in real-time. Hevo takes full charge of the data transfer process, allowing you to focus your resources and time on other key business activities.


  • Working knowledge of Kafka.
  • A general idea of ETL.
  • A general idea of APIs.
  • A general idea of Java/Scala.

Methods to Set Up Kafka ETL

There are multiple ways in which you can set up Kafka ETL:

Method 1: Using Kafka Connect to Set up Kafka ETL

You can build an ETL pipeline with Kafka Connect using the following steps:

Step 1: Preparing data at your desired data source such as MySQL

To begin setting up Kafka ETL, you first need to prepare the data you want to transfer using the Kafka ETL pipeline. For example, if you’re using MySQL as your data source, you can create a table, “customers” and add data to it using the “Insert Into” command:

$ mysql -u root --password="mypassword"
mysql> CREATE DATABASE demodata;
mysql> USE demodata;
mysql> CREATE TABLE customers (
->   id serial NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY,
->   name varchar(100),
->   email varchar(200),
->   department varchar(200),
->   modified timestamp default CURRENT_TIMESTAMP NOT NULL,
->   INDEX `modified_index` (`modified`)
-> );
mysql> INSERT INTO customers (name, email, department) VALUES ('aleesha', '', 'engineering');
mysql> INSERT INTO customers (name, email, department) VALUES ('bharat', '', 'sales');
mysql> exit;

Once you’ve prepared your data, you now need to start the services required for Kafka Connect and the HDFS cluster using the following command:

$ ./

This is how you can prepare your data source for setting up Kafka ETL.

Step 2: Ingesting Data into Kafka using Kafka Connect

To ingest data from your desired source such as MySQL, Kafka makes use of the JDBC connector to bring in the data from the data source and the HDFS connector to load data from Kafka. Kafka ensures that the data remains in Kafka, allowing users to transfer the data to multiple destinations parallelly such as Elasticsearch.

To start the process, enable Kafka Connect with both connectors, using the following command:

$ connect-standalone /mnt/etc/ 
    /mnt/etc/ /mnt/etc/ &

The properties, and are responsible for controlling how the JDBC and HDFS connectors work respectively. To know more about them click on the links given below:

Once you’ve enabled Kafka Connect, the JDBC connector will create a new topic called test_jdbc_name. The HDFS connector will now start reading the data from this topic and will transfer it to HDFS, by storing the data in the directory, topics/test_jdbc_customers/. It will also create a new external table in Hive, known as test_jdbc_customers.

You can now use Hive to retrieve the data stored in HDFS, using the following command:

Retrieving Data from Hive.

Step 3: Setting up Change Data Capture for your Data Source

With the JDBC connector in place, you can set up the change data capture by configuring the following fields:

  •  This field represents the column that will increment.
  • This field represents the timestamp column that the JDBC driver will refer to while performing the update.
  • Mode: This field represents the mode of change data capture.

The best mode of carrying out change data capture is by using a combination of the timestamp column and incrementing column, as each tuple, containing the timestamp & incrementing (id & timestamp) columns, can be easily identified and updated. Even if the updates happen partially, they can be completed at a later stage.

Once you’ve set up change data capture, whenever the data at your source gets modified, the JDBC connector will automatically apply the same changes to your destination. For example, if you modify the customers’ table in MySQL using the following command:

mysql>UPDATE users SET email = '', modified = CURRENT_TIMESTAMP WHERE name='aleesha';
mysql>UPDATE users SET email = '', modified = CURRENT_TIMESTAMP WHERE name='bharat';

The JDBC connector will immediately identify the updates and will copy them to Kafka, from where they are then applied to the destination. You can now use a select statement to retrieve the data stored in the customers’ table and see if it was updated or not:

Kafka ETL-Verifying Kafka ETL Change Data Capture.

This is how you can set up Kafka ETL and transfer data from a source database such as MySQL to a data warehouse or any other destination.

Step 4: Configuring Schema Migration for HDFS Connector

The HDFS connector allows users to configure the schema they want to use for loading the data into a destination of their choice, with the help of the “schema.compatibility” parameter. You can set this to “None”, “Backward”, “Forward” or “Full” as per your requirement.

When the schema configuration is “Backward”, the HDFS connector keeps track of the most recent schema and only when a record with a larger schema comes, it automatically takes up the new schema and maps all data records to the new schema. Even when a user inserts a new record with the old schema, it automatically maps it to the new schema and then loads the data into Hive.

To implement this, remove the name column from the customers’ table using the following command:

Kafka ETL-Altering the table to remove the Name column.

Once the schema change comes into place, Kafka Connect will use the Avro converter to register this schema in the schema registry, and the HDFS connector will automatically refer to the migration mode and make the update before loading the data. 

Kafka ETL-erifying schema updation.

This is how you can configure schema migration for HDFS connector.

Limitations of using Kafka Connect

  • Deploying custom plugins using Kafka Connect can be challenging, especially for a beginner.
  • It requires having an in-depth knowledge of Java /Scala. 
  • It can be tough to distinguish between commercial and open-source features.

Are you tired of following a tedious ETL setup process? Click here to check how Hevo, can you help you set up your ETL Pipelines to bring in data from 100+ sources in a hassle-free and completely automated manner.

Method 2: Using Kafka Stream APIs to Set Up Kafka ETL

Kafka ETL-Kafka Streaming ETL Architecture.
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This can be implemented using the following steps:

Step 1: Loading Data into Kafka

To start the export process, you first need to have a Kafka source connector, that will help you bring in data from a variety of data sources. Click here and choose your desired Kafka source connector from a large variety of available connectors such as Kafka Connect Elasticsearch, Kafka Connect Couchbase, etc.

Once you’ve selected your desired connector, you now need to make use of JDBC connector to load data into Kafka in the form of key-value pair messages. 

Kafka ETL-Kafka Data Stream.
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To do this, you will need to make use of Single Message Transforms (SMTs) and use the following configuration for your Kafka topics:

Kafka ETL-Target Configuration for Streaming Data.
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Open the source connector properties file for your JDBC connector known as and append the following lines of code, that will help transform the fetched data by making use of the Single Message Transform functions namely, ValueToKey and Extract Field. This ensures that the data is converted into the correct format before it’s stored as Kafka topics.

# Add the `id` field as the key using Simple Message Transformations
transforms=InsertKey, ExtractId

# `ValueToKey`: push an object of one of the column fields (`id`) into the key

# `ExtractField`: convert key from an object to a plain field

Once you’ve modified the configurations to bring in data as key-value pairs, you need to set your key & value converter to the string and Avro format respectively. You can do this by adding the following lines of code to the JDBC source connector properties files:

# key converter: String (just a bare field)

# value converter: schema’d Avro with pointer to Schema Registry

Kafka Connect will now automatically fetch data from your desired data source such as SQLite3 once the source data changes. It will then store it in the form of key-value pairs in the Kafka topic you’ve created. You can now access data in the as a KSream object directly from your application, with each row, now stored as an Avro record.

# Lookup the schema of the message value for the topic “retail-locations”
$ curl -X GET http://schemaregistry1:8081/subjects/retail-locations-value/versions/1 | jq
  "subject": "retail-locations-value",
  "version": 1,
  "id": 2,
  "schema": "{"type":"record","name":"locations","fields":[{"name":"id","type":["null","long"],"default":null},{"name":"name","type":["null","string"],"default":null},{"name":"sale","type":["null","long"],"default":null}],"":"locations"}"

Step 2: Using Kafka Stream APIs to Transform Data

Once you’ve successfully loaded your data into Kafka as a topic, you can now use a variety of applications to access this data and use the schema registry to deserialize the Avro Record. Transform your data for Kafka ETL as follows:

Using Kafka Topics to create Kafka Streams

To create Kafka Stream Objects, you need to convert the byte records of your Kafka topic into a Java object. To do this, create a schema file for your Avro records called “location.avsc”, that will help outline the data structure that matches the clients’ expectations, having three records id, name and sale (example).

Kafka ETL-Schema file for Avro Records.

Once you’ve created the Avro schema file, you now need a Java class that matches the schema and helps deserialise the Avro records. You can directly import the Java class(ex: Location) using the maven plug-in avro-maven-plugin, found in the pom.xml file. You can import the class using the following lines of code: 

import io.confluent.examples.connectandstreams.avro.Location;

Configure your streams so that the correct serialization/deserialization class is used. To do this, use the following lines of code:

#Define the Serdes for the key
streamsConfiguration.put(StreamsConfig.KEY_SERDE_CLASS_CONFIG, Serdes.String().getClass().getName());
#Define the Serdes for the value
streamsConfiguration.put(StreamsConfig.VALUE_SERDE_CLASS_CONFIG, GenericAvroSerde.class);        
#Point to the Schema Registry
streamsConfiguration.put(AbstractKafkaAvroSerDeConfig.SCHEMA_REGISTRY_URL_CONFIG, http://schemaregistry1:8081);

Once you’ve made all the configurations correctly, create the KStream object using the following line of code:

#Build a KStream<String, GenericRecord> from the Kafka topic
KStream<String, GenericRecord> locationsGeneric =“retail-locations”);
#Build a KStream<Long, Location> from locationsGeneric
KStream<Long, Location> locationsStream =, v) -> new KeyValue<Long, Location>(Long.parseLong(k), new Location ((Long) v.get("id"), (String) v.get("name").toString(), (Long) v.get("sale")) ));

This is how you can create KStream objects to set up streaming Kafka ETL.

Using Kafka Stream Processing Operations to transform the data

Once you’ve created your KStream object (locationsStream), you can now start transforming your data stream, containing key-value pair-based messages.

Kafka ETL-Stream Data as Key-Value Pairs.
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The Kafka Stream APIs provide various streams processors, which take data records as the input, going one at a time, perform numerous transformations on them and then produces single or multiple outputs. Kafka stream processors can be either stateless and hence transform a particular message at a time or be stateful and perform aggregation operations on various data messages.

Some of the common transformations you can perform using Kafka Stream APIs are as follows:

Sum Values for a Key: This makes use of the reduce method to sum the values of messages that are grouped based on a key. You can do this by using the following command to find the sum of all sales for a given key:

KStream<Long,Long> salesAgg =sales.groupByKey(Serdes.Long(), Serdes.Long()).reduce((aggValue, newValue) -> aggValue + newValue, SALES_STORE).toStream();
Sum values for a key.
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Mapping Data Stream to Key-Value pair: You can use the map method and convert a KStream<Long, Location> to KStream<Long, Long> using the following line of code:

KStream<Long,Long> sales =, v) -> new KeyValue<Long, Long>(k, v.getSale()));
Key-Value Pairs.
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This is how you can transform your data using the Kafka Stream APIs stream processors.

Step 3: Loading Data into your desired destination such as S3

Once you’ve transformed & enriched your data, you can now transfer it to a destination of your choice such as S3 using a Kafka sink connector. You can also run multiple sink connectors in parallel and load the same data into various locations. To do this, use a KStream object to write out the information of a particular topic using the following line of code: 

#Write KStream to a topic, Serdes.Long(), OUTPUT_TOPIC);

The Kafka sink connector will now transfer your data to the destination, using the downstream system. For example, if you want to load the data into your S3 bucket, you will need to provide your Kafka topic name, S3 region and bucket to configure the sink connector:

$ bin/connect-standalone

This is how you can set up streaming Kafka ETL using the Stream APIs.

Limitation of Using Kafka Stream APIs

  • Setting up streaming ETL can be a challenging task and requires having a strong knowledge of Java. 

Method 3: Using Hevo Data to Set Up Kafka ETL

Kafka ETL: Hevo Logo
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Hevo Data, an Automated No-code Data Pipeline  helps you to directly set up Kafka ETL without any manual intervention. Hevo provides a one-stop solution for all Kafka use cases and provides you with real-time ETL facilities. Hevo initializes a connection with Kafka Bootstrap Servers and seamlessly collects the data stored in their Topics & Clusters.

Hevo’s fault-tolerant architecture will enrich and transform your data during the ETL process in a secure and consistent manner and load it to the desired destination. You can entrust us with your data transfer process and enjoy a real-time data streaming. This way, you can focus more on Data Analysis, instead of ETL.

 To learn more, check out Hevo’s documentation for Kafka ETL

Check out what makes Hevo amazing:

  • Secure: Hevo has a fault-tolerant architecture that ensures that the data is handled in a secure, consistent manner with zero data loss.
  • Schema Mapping: Hevo takes away the tedious task of schema management & automatically detects the schema of incoming data and maps it to the destination schema. Hevo also automaps the NoSQL or Unstructured Data coming from Kafka.
  • Transformations: Hevo provides preload transformations through Python code. It also allows you to run transformation code for each event in the pipelines you set up. You need to edit the event object’s properties received in the transform method as a parameter to carry out the transformation. Hevo also offers drag and drop transformations like Date and Control Functions, JSON, and Event Manipulation to name a few.
  • Minimal Learning: Hevo, with its simple and interactive UI, is extremely simple for new customers to work on and perform operations.
  • Hevo Is Built To Scale: As the number of sources and the volume of your data grows, Hevo scales horizontally, handling millions of records per minute with very little latency.
  • Incremental Data Load: Hevo allows the transfer of data that has been modified in real-time. This ensures efficient utilization of bandwidth on both ends.
  • Live Support: The Hevo team is available round the clock to extend exceptional support to its customers through chat, email, and support calls.
  • Live Monitoring: Hevo allows you to monitor the data flow and check where your data is at a particular point in time.

ETL your data from Kafka to your destination Warehouse with Hevo’s easy-to-setup and No-code interface. Try our 14-day full access free trial.

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This article introduces you to the various methods that can be used to set up Kafka ETL. It also provides in-depth knowledge about the concepts behind every step to help you understand and implement them efficiently. These methods, however, can be challenging as they require a deep understanding of Java programming language and other backend tools. This is where Hevo saves the day!

Hevo Data provides an Automated No-code Data Pipeline that empowers you to overcome the above-mentioned limitations. You can leverage Hevo to seamlessly set up Kafka ETL in real-time without writing a single line of code. Hevo caters to 100+ data sources (including 40+ free sources) and can securely transfer data to Data Warehouses, Business Intelligence Tools, or any other destination of your choice in a hassle-free manner. Hevo allows you to not only export & load data but also transform & enrich your data & make it analysis-ready in real-time.

Learn more about Hevo

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Tell us about your preferred way of setting up Kafka ETL! Let us know in the comments section below.