Why Tiered Storage for Apache Kafka is a BIG THING…

Kai Waehner
11 min readFeb 24, 2024

Apache Kafka added Tiered Storage to separate compute and storage. The capability enables more scalable, reliable and cost-efficient enterprise architectures. This blog post explores the architecture, use cases, benefits, and a case study for storing Petabytes of data in the Kafka commit log. The end discusses why Tiered Storage does NOT replace other databases and how Apache Iceberg might change future Kafka architectures even more.

(Originally posted on Kai Waehner’s blog: “Why Tiered Storage for Apache Kafka is a BIG THING”… Join the data streaming community and stay informed about new blog posts by subscribing to my newsletter)

Compute vs. Storage vs. Tiered Storage

Let’s define the terms compute, storage, and tiered storage to have the same understanding when exploring this in the context of the data streaming platform Apache Kafka.

Compute and Storage

Two fundamental components of a computing system are compute and storage. They serve different purposes in information processing.

Compute refers to the processing power and capability of a computer system to perform tasks, execute instructions, and carry out computations. The compute component includes the CPU (Central Processing Unit) and GPU (Graphics Processing Unit).

Storage refers to the components and systems that store and retrieving data over the long term. It is where data is persistently maintained for later use. Storage includes devices such as hard disk drives (HDDs), solid-state drives (SSDs), and other types of non-volatile memory, such as databases that keep data even when the power is turned off.

Tiered Storage

Tiered storage refers to a storage architecture that uses different classes or tiers of storage (e.g., Object Storage on S3) to efficiently manage and store data based on its access patterns, performance requirements, and cost considerations.

The goal of tiered storage is to optimize the use of storage resources, balancing performance and cost, by placing data on the most suitable storage media based on its characteristics and the organization’s policies.



Kai Waehner

Technology Evangelist — www.kai-waehner.de → Big Data Analytics, Data Streaming, Apache Kafka, Middleware, Microservices => linkedin.com/in/kaiwaehner