Choosing The Right Message Queue Technology For Your Notification System

Anjali Arya
September 2, 2023

In order to send out notifications on time, modern applications depend on effective communication mechanisms. Finding your way around the vast world of message queue systems can be challenging. This guide offers a step-by-step process for choosing the best message queue technology to power your notification system, ensuring smooth communication and top efficiency.

Understanding Your Requirements: Key Factors to Consider

When choosing the right message queue technology for your notification system, there are several key factors to consider. In this section, we'll explore some of the most important ones, along with real-world notification use cases to help illustrate their significance.


Imagine you're building a mobile app that sends push notifications to users when their favorite sports team scores a goal. As the app gains popularity, the number of notifications sent per minute increases exponentially. A message queue technology that can scale horizontally and vertically will ensure that your app can handle the increased load without affecting performance.

Message Retention

Suppose you want to send transactional notifications to users whenever a significant financial transaction occurs in their account. You typically send these notifications in real-time when a transaction occurs. However, one day, the consumer experiences a temporary outage due to a server issue. During this time, the message queue is processed, but notifications are not sent. Without message retention, the notifications would be discarded from the queue, and users would miss important updates about their accounts.

With message retention, instead of discarding notifications from the queue when the consumer is unavailable, the notifications are retained in the message queue. The retention period can be set based on the needs of your application, such as 1 hour, 1 day, or even longer. When the consumer is up again, all the retained messages in the queue can be re-processed again, ensuring critical transactional notifications are still delivered to users during the consumer outage.

Low Latency

A financial institution uses a low-latency message queue like Redis Pub/Sub to notify its fraud detection team of potential security threats in real-time. Whenever a suspicious transaction is detected, the system sends a notification to the message queue, which instantly alerts the team's mobile devices. The low-latency message queue ensures that notifications are delivered promptly, enabling the team to react swiftly and effectively to potential security breaches.

High Throughput

A food delivery app that sends notifications to customers about order status changes (e.g., "Your order is being prepared," "Your order is on its way") requires a high-throughput message queue. Technologies like Apache Kafka or Amazon Kinesis can handle large volumes of messages and distribute them efficiently across multiple consumers, ensuring timely updates for hungry customers.

Message Ordering

In a financial trading platform that sends real-time market alerts to users, message ordering is critical. If the alerts arrive out of sequence, users might miss opportunities or make incorrect investment decisions. Partitioning messages within a queue, as offered by Kafka, helps maintain message ordering and ensures that users receive notifications in the correct order.


In a healthcare setting, a patient's vital signs monitoring system sends notifications to nurses and doctors when certain thresholds are met (e.g., heart rate exceeds 100 bpm). Critical notifications must be delivered promptly to prevent adverse events. Message prioritization in Kafka, combined with strong message ordering, ensures that urgent notifications are processed and delivered first, protecting patient safety.

Dead Letter Queues

An e-commerce website sends order confirmation emails to customers but encounters a high bounce rate due to invalid email addresses. Without a dead letter queue, undeliverable messages would cause errors and slow down the entire system. By implementing a separate dead letter queue, you can isolate and analyze failed deliveries, improving overall system performance and identifying potential issues.

By considering these key factors and using relevant notification-specific use cases, you can choose the best message queue technology for your notification system, ensuring it meets your performance, scalability, and reliability needs.

Exploring Popular Message Queue Technologies for Notifications

Several well-known message queue methods stand out when developing notification systems that require effective and dependable communication between components.  In this section, we will compare between different message queue technologies.

Features RabbitMQ Apache Kafka AWS SQS Google Cloud Pub/Sub Amazon Kinesis
Message Processing and Management
Messaging Model AMQP Publish-Subscribe Push-Pull Publish-Subscribe Publish-Subscribe
Messaging Retention Configurable Configurable Configurable Configurable Configurable
Message Ordering Sequential Partial-Ordered FIFO Unordered Partial-Order
Performance and Scalability
Latency Varied according to Configuration Low Low Low Low
Throughput Moderate to High High High High High
Scalability Distributed Scalable Highly scalable Automatically scales with AWS Highly scalable Highly Scalable
Dead Letter Queues
Handling Failed Messages Retry mechanism, optionally move to Dead Letter Exchanges Retry and process records with offset commits Retry with visibility timeout, optional DLQs Retry mechanism, application-level dead-letter Retry mechanism, application-level dead-letter handling
Dead Letter Queues Supported through Dead Letter Exchange Custom Support Not Supported Yes Not Supported
Message Transformation
Transformation Options Yes Custom Limited Custom Yes
Data Enrichment Yes Custom Limited Custom Custom
Message Formats
Message Formats Customizable Usually Binary JSON, XML Binary, Text (Custom) Customizable
Payload Size Configurable Large (often in MBs) 256 KB - 256 KB 10 MB (Standard) Configurable
Cost and Pricing
Pricing Structure Self-hosted (No direct cost) Self-hosted (Infrastructure cost) Pay-as-you-go (Per-request, data transferred) Pay-as-you-go (Per-request, data volume) Pay-as-you-go (Per-request, data volume)
Free Tier Yes (for self-hosted) Yes (open-source) Yes (limited usage) Yes (limited usage) Yes (limited usage)
Database Integrations Possible through custom applications Possible through custom applications Not directly supported Possible through custom applications Possible through custom applications
Cloud Service Integration Integration possible but may require custom development Integration possible but may require custom development Integration through Kafka Connect and other connectors Seamless integration with Google Cloud services Integration with various AWS Services
Data Persistence Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Data Replication Clustering Replication Replication Replication Replication
Redundancy Fault-Tolerant Fault-Tolerant Availability Zones Fault-Tolerant Availability Zones
Access Control Fine-grained access control through vhosts ACLs AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) Google Cloud Identity and Access Management (IAM) AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM)
Compliance Depends on deployment Compliance needs to be managed at higher levels Compliance varies based on AWS service offerings Compliance varies based on Google Cloud service offerings Compliance varies based on AWS service offerings
Monitoring Tools
Monitoring Tools RabbitMQ Management Plugin Third-party tools Amazon CloudWatch Stackdriver Monitoring Amazon CloudWatch
Management Console RabbitMQ Management UI Third-party tools AWS Management Console Google Cloud Console AWS Management Console
Metrics Provided through Management Plugin Third-party tools Available in CloudWatch Available in Stackdriver Monitoring Available in CloudWatch Logs and Metrics

Example Use-Cases: Which message broker to use?

Use Case 1: Startup with Low Volume Transactional Notifications

Recommendation: RabbitMQ

RabbitMQ is a good choice for startups with low volume transactional notifications because it offers a simple, lightweight messaging solution that is easy to set up and manage. It also has a flexible architecture that allows for easy scaling as the startup grows. Additionally, RabbitMQ has a large community of developers who contribute to its development and provide support, making it a cost-effective option.

Use Case 2: Mid-Sized Company with High Volume Notifications and Low Latency Requirements

Recommendation: Apache Kafka

Apache Kafka is a good choice for mid-sized companies with high volume notifications and low latency requirements because it offers a distributed, publish-subscribe model that can handle high throughput and provides low-latency communication between microservices. It also supports fan-out patterns, which allow a single message to be sent to multiple subscribers, making it well-suited for real-time data streaming and event-driven architectures. Additionally, Kafka provides strong guarantees for message delivery and replication, ensuring that messages are not lost or duplicated.

Use Case 3: Enterprise with Complex Notification Workflows and Multiple Microservices

Recommendation: Amazon Kinesis

Amazon Kinesis is a good choice for enterprises with complex notification workflows and multiple microservices because it offers a fully managed, scalable, and secure messaging service that can handle large volumes of data. It also integrates seamlessly with other Amazon Web Services (AWS) products, such as AWS Lambda, AWS Glue, and AWS SageMaker, allowing for easy integration with existing systems. Additionally, Kinesis provides real-time processing and analytics capabilities, enabling businesses to react quickly to changing conditions and make data-driven decisions. Its ability to handle large amounts of data and scale up or down as needed makes it a cost-efficient option for enterprises.

Assessing Your Needs: A Decision-Making Framework

To assist you in evaluating your needs, examine trade-offs, and account for things like learning curves, setup complexities, and monitoring easiness, this blog provides a thorough approach. By using this framework, you'll be able to make well-informed choices that match technology with your particular needs, assuring effective implementation and optimum performance in the fast-paced tech industry of today.

Message Queue Decision Steps

Low Latency V/S High Throughput: How To Prioritize?

Low latency and high throughput are both important characteristics of a message queue technology, but they often come at the expense of each other. In other words, optimizing for low latency can lead to lower throughput, and vice versa.

One reason for this trade-off is that low latency requires the message queue technology to have fast ingestion and egress rates, which can lead to higher resource utilization (e.g., CPU, memory, network bandwidth). On the other hand, high throughput requires the ability to process large volumes of messages, which can lead to increased latency as the system struggles to keep up with the load.

Another reason is that some message queue technologies are designed with different use cases in mind. For example, RabbitMQ is designed for low-latency, real-time applications, whereas Apache Kafka is designed for high-throughput, distributed streaming.

Therefore, choosing between low latency and high throughput depends on the specific requirements of the application. If real-time updates are critical, low latency may be the better choice. But if the application requires processing large volumes of data, high throughput may be more important. It's worth noting that some message queue technologies, such as Apache Kafka, offer configurable settings that allow for a balance between low latency and high throughput. However, even in these cases, there may still be limitations imposed by the underlying hardware and software architecture.

Considerations for Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Environments

Some considerations for Hybrid and Multi-Cloud Environments are:-

  • Multiple Message Queue Technology Management: Different components of your application may make use of various message queue technologies in hybrid and multi-cloud settings. Make certain that your team is skilled at managing and maintaining these technologies.
  • Ensure consistency and interoperability: Pick message queue technologies that are compatible with various situations. Look for generally applicable standardized protocols, such as AMQP or MQTT. To prevent fragmentation, use uniform message patterns and procedures across all systems.
  • Taking Care of Potential Complexities and Trade-Offs: Due to the requirement for cross-environment connectivity, hybrid and multi-cloud solutions may add complexity. Analyze the trade-offs between flexibility's advantages and complexity.

Conclusion and Next Steps

The key to creating a successful notification system is selecting the right message queue technology that fits your unique needs, design, and objectives. We've looked at important variables to think about well-liked message queue technologies, and essential considerations for hybrid and multi-cloud environments throughout this guide. 

Decisions will be influenced by a variety of project-specific variables. Finding the right mix between performance, dependability, usability, and ecosystem compatibility is crucial. As your application develops, periodically re-evaluate the requirements for your notification system.

Written by:
Anjali Arya
Product & Analytics, SuprSend

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