Shades88 Shades88 - 1 month ago 25
Java Question

Effective strategy to avoid duplicate messages in apache kafka consumer

I have been studying apache kafka for a month now. I am however, stuck at a point now. My use case is, I have two or more consumer processes running on different machines. I ran a few tests in which I published 10,000 messages in kafka server. Then while processing these messages I killed one of the consumer processes and restarted it. Consumers were writing processed messages in a file. So after consumption finished, file was showing more than 10k messages. So some messages were duplicated.

In consumer process I have disabled auto commit. Consumers manually commit offsets batch wise. So for e.g if 100 messages are written to file, consumer commits offsets. When single consumer process is running and it crashes and recovers duplication is avoided in this manner. But when more than one consumers are running and one of them crashes and recovers, it writes duplicate messages to file.

Is there any effective strategy to avoid these duplicate messages?

Answer

The short answer is, no.

What you're looking for is exactly-once processing. While it may often seem feasible, it should never be relied upon because there are always caveats.

Even in order to attempt to prevent duplicates you would need to use the simple consumer. How this approach works is for each consumer, when a message is consumed from some partition, write the partition and offset of the consumed message to disk. When the consumer restarts after a failure, read the last consumed offset for each partition from disk.

But even with this pattern the consumer can't guarantee it won't reprocess a message after a failure. What if the consumer consumes a message and then fails before the offset is flushed to disk? If you write to disk before you process the message, what if you write the offset and then fail before actually processing the message? This same problem would exist even if you were to commit offsets to ZooKeeper after every message.

There are some cases, though, where exactly-once processing is more attainable, but only for certain use cases. This simply requires that your offset be stored in the same location as unit application's output. For instance, if you write a consumer that counts messages, by storing the last counted offset with each count you can guarantee that the offset is stored at the same time as the consumer's state. Of course, in order to guarantee exactly-once processing this would require that you consume exactly one message and update the state exactly once for each message, and that's completely impractical for most Kafka consumer applications. By its nature Kafka consumes messages in batches for performance reasons.

Usually your time will be more well spent and your application will be much more reliable if you simply design it to be idempotent.

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