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What Is a Message Broker?

Messaging middleware makes it easier for applications to communicate by paving the way for a scalable communications infrastructure that keeps up with demands on various forms of communication. Messaging middleware uses a server-based model that relies on a message broker. The simple way to define message broker is as an intermediary between applications that validates, stores, routes, and delivers messages to their intended destinations. The producer or source application sends a message through a server that delivers the message to consumers. Message brokers allow producers and consumers to discreetly communicate using standard or propriety protocols. There are two main types of message broker models—publish and subscribe (topics) and point-to-point (Queues).

Publish and Subscribe (Topics)

A producer publishes messages to topics that are subscribed to by multiple message consumers. Anytime a message is published to a topic, it’s delivered to all applications subscribed to it. This model uses a broadcast-style distribution method, meaning producers have a one-to-many relationship with consumers. This distribution method is ideal for messages that don’t require an action.

 

 

Point-to-Point (Queues)

This distribution method maintains a one-to-one relationship between the producer and consumer. Point-to-Point messaging is used to send a message to a specific recipient for one-time consumption and response. An example of Point-to-Point messaging is payroll and financial transaction processing.

Message brokers rely on substructures called message queues to provide reliable message storage and delivery. Message queues store and order messages until they are processed by consuming applications. They simplify the coding of decoupled applications and allow different parts of a system to communicate and function asynchronously. Messages in queues are small and simple such as requests, replies, or error messages.

Asynchronous messages prevent the loss of valuable data and allow systems to function despite connectivity or latency issues, and they are guaranteed to be delivered once they are placed in the message queue.

When is a message broker needed?

As businesses adopt more digitization, successful data exchange is becoming a challenge. Message brokers have replaced endpoints to make the data exchange process simpler and more reliable. Different protocols determine the message format when transmitted, processed, and consumed. Message brokers can separate the producer and consumer, store and route messages, and check and organize messages.

Message brokers can be utilized anytime that reliable inter-application communication and delivery is needed. They are essential to financial transactions and payment processing. A message broker ensures that payment information isn’t lost or duplicated, provides proof of receipt, and allows systems to communicate when networks aren’t functioning.

E-commerce brands are as strong as the reliability of their websites and e-commerce platforms. Message brokers are essential for order processing and fulfillment, as they enhance fault tolerance and guarantee one-time message delivery. They are also essential for protecting highly sensitive data when it’s being stored and distributed.

Cloud-based applications are composed of small, discrete, reusable components known as microservices. They run independently of each other so they can be updated, scaled, or restarted without affecting other services. Microservices are designed to work together to make up a whole application. They need a reliable way to communicate with each other, which is where message brokers become essential.

Message brokers are utilized to manage communications between systems that are on-premises as well as cloud components. Having more control over interservice communications ensures data is reliably and efficiently distributed among applications. They are also useful when integrating multi-cloud environments and in serverless computing.

As more and more businesses shift to digital business models and cloud-based applications, message brokers are becoming more important. Message brokers support business agility, microservices-based cloud infrastructures, and countless other systems and connectivity needs.

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