Confluent Launches Partner Initiative For Converting Kafka Owners

Confluent is looking to its systems integrator and cloud platform partners to help win over the more than 100,000 organizations using open-source Kafka software and migrate them to the company’s streaming data platform.

Data Streaming technology developer Confluent has launched a new channel program to enlist and assist partners that help businesses and organizations migrate to Confluent’s platform from Apache Kafka and legacy messaging systems.

The new Confluent Migration Accelerator initiative, part of Confluent’s broader partner ecosystem, targets global and regional systems integrators that implement and integrate Confluent’s data streaming software or cloud service and cloud hyperscalers that provide data services.

The new program offers training, expertise, prepackaged solutions and tools to assist systems integrators with integration projects. There is also a funding credit component to the new initiative.

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Confluent, headquartered in Mountain View, Calif., develops a data streaming platform used to manage and process real-time data – what the company calls “data-in-motion” – for a broad range of operational and analytical tasks. Some of the growing number of generative AI applications now in production also require real-time data.

Confluent is compatible with Apache Kafka, open-source streaming data software that was originally developed by Confluent’s founders. Today Kafka is being used by some 110,000 businesses and organizations, including 75 percent of the Fortune 500, according to Confluent.

But Confluent argues that Kafka has limitations in performance, scalability and in specific functionality such as failover processes, governance, security, and cluster sizing. The company is making a push to convince Kafka users to migrate to the Confluent platform, which is built on the company’s own Kora Engine technology that is API-compatible with Kafka but is cloud-native and, according to the company, offers more scalability and functionality than the open-source software.

“We’ve captured 4,900 global enterprises onto Confluent,” said Paul Mac Farland, vice president of the Partner & Innovation Ecosystem at Confluent, referring to the company’s customer base during an interview with CRN. And many of those were previously Kafka users, he said. “There are 110,000 [businesses and organizations] on open-source Kafka and so we’re barely scratching the surface.”

Mac Farland (pictured) said businesses can realize total-cost-of-ownership savings of 40 to 60 percent by migrating from Kafka to Confluent due to improved performance and the reduced need for the additional development time and resources needed to maintain Kafka’s performance.

“It’s incredibly common for us to have a customer who’s already using Apache Kafka and realize that they need a better platform to really embrace data streaming,” Mac Farland said.

Confluent is also targeting owners of legacy messaging middleware, such as TIBCO Messaging and IBM MQ, that Mac Farland said also face performance and scalability limitations and are candidates for a switch to Confluent.

Many systems integrators and solution providers are already doing Kafka-to-Confluent migrations on a regular basis, according to the channel executive, including building their own migration tools and accelerators. The goal with the Confluent Migration Accelerator is to provide the resources and incentives to make those projects a more repeatable business.

“Anything that’s repeatable, collectively we’re trying to code-ify that into technology rather than human time. How do we make the switching costs, both in time and money, smaller in order to move faster?” Mac Farland said.

“In order for this to be successful, we focus on ensuring that the system integrators are what we would call ‘delivery ready.’ That’s services revenue for them, but at the same time it establishes them as data streaming experts within that customer,” Mac Farland said. That creates additional potential opportunities for partners to develop additional streaming data applications and services for customers once they’ve migrated to Confluent.

Mac Farland says that while the new program provides training, enablement and certification, he expects that most of the systems integrators joining the Confluent Migration Accelerator program already belong to Confluent’s overall partner program and hold Confluent administrator and developer certifications.

Cloud service providers sometimes provide credits for customers migrating to their cloud platforms and Mac Farland said providing access to those credits is also part of the new initiative.

The new program is Confluent’s latest bid to expand through the channel. In July 2023 the company launched its Connect with Confluent program to recruit ISV and technology partners, including developers of database, data analytics and other big data software, build integrations with the Confluent data streaming platform.