Spring Cloud Data Flow Review

Gives us the simplicity of using off-the-shelf data flow plug-in components

What is our primary use case?

The organization I’m currently consulting for is performing a lift-and-shift, moving its existing software from an on-prem platform and infrastructure to the cloud. They have chosen Azure as their cloud provider. As part of this process, they have orders to move away from expensive, monolithic, proprietary software platforms, and to replace them with open-source, publicly available software technologies.

One area we’ll be replacing is their current middleware software which consists of IBM WebSphere Message Broker. While it is a fine tool for the most part, it’s also bulky and expensive to operate. The final solution we’re working towards will be much more cloud-native, will support scalability, be able to process messages much faster, and consist of several different technologies and vendors (not just a single vendor, as is the case with the current IBM solution). This new middleware platform will consist of: Apache Kafka for the delivery of messages, Spring Cloud Data Flow, and a handful of RESTful APIs.

How has it helped my organization?

This product will assist us in saving costs in many ways:

  • No longer need to continue paying high fees for proprietary software.
  • Reduce the number of software engineers needed to support the product.
  • Faster time to market (and into our customer’s hands) by using this product for our middleware.
  • Strong levels of security and easier visualization of our components and how they connect together.

What is most valuable?

The ability to offer a graphical environment in order to visualize the stream is extremely important. It not only helps to see how the stream is composed but also helps to share those ideas and flows with other members of your team.

The simplicity of using off-the-shelf components that plug into the data flows is also very valuable, as this helps to reduce the time you’ll need to spend reinventing the wheel and creating those common patterns.

The ease of developing custom components that can plug into the ecosystem is also extremely valuable.

What needs improvement?

The visual user interface could use some help; it needs improvement. The setup and integration could also be better.

For how long have I used the solution?

Less than one year.

What other advice do I have?

I would rate this product (or set of technologies) a solid eight out of 10. The things that would keep me from giving it a full 10 are the fact that the graphic user interface portion of the toolset still needs some polishing and performs somewhat slowly. However, I have not had an opportunity to run this tool set on higher performing machines, and have been limited to simply running it within a set of virtual machines on my own workstation.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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