AWS Big Data Blog

Architectural patterns for real-time analytics using Amazon Kinesis Data Streams, part 1

We’re living in the age of real-time data and insights, driven by low-latency data streaming applications. Today, everyone expects a personalized experience in any application, and organizations are constantly innovating to increase their speed of business operation and decision making. The volume of time-sensitive data produced is increasing rapidly, with different formats of data being introduced across new businesses and customer use cases. Therefore, it is critical for organizations to embrace a low-latency, scalable, and reliable data streaming infrastructure to deliver real-time business applications and better customer experiences.

This is the first post to a blog series that offers common architectural patterns in building real-time data streaming infrastructures using Kinesis Data Streams for a wide range of use cases. It aims to provide a framework to create low-latency streaming applications on the AWS Cloud using Amazon Kinesis Data Streams and AWS purpose-built data analytics services.

In this post, we will review the common architectural patterns of two use cases: Time Series Data Analysis and Event Driven Microservices. In the subsequent post in our series, we will explore the architectural patterns in building streaming pipelines for real-time BI dashboards, contact center agent, ledger data, personalized real-time recommendation, log analytics, IoT data, Change Data Capture, and real-time marketing data. All these architecture patterns are integrated with Amazon Kinesis Data Streams.

Real-time streaming with Kinesis Data Streams

Amazon Kinesis Data Streams is a cloud-native, serverless streaming data service that makes it easy to capture, process, and store real-time data at any scale. With Kinesis Data Streams, you can collect and process hundreds of gigabytes of data per second from hundreds of thousands of sources, allowing you to easily write applications that process information in real-time. The collected data is available in milliseconds to allow real-time analytics use cases, such as real-time dashboards, real-time anomaly detection, and dynamic pricing. By default, the data within the Kinesis Data Stream is stored for 24 hours with an option to increase the data retention to 365 days. If customers want to process the same data in real-time with multiple applications, then they can use the Enhanced Fan-Out (EFO) feature. Prior to this feature, every application consuming data from the stream shared the 2MB/second/shard output. By configuring stream consumers to use enhanced fan-out, each data consumer receives dedicated 2MB/second pipe of read throughput per shard to further reduce the latency in data retrieval.

For high availability and durability, Kinesis Data Streams achieves high durability by synchronously replicating the streamed data across three Availability Zones in an AWS Region and gives you the option to retain data for up to 365 days. For security, Kinesis Data Streams provide server-side encryption so you can meet strict data management requirements by encrypting your data at rest and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) interface endpoints to keep traffic between your Amazon VPC and Kinesis Data Streams private.

Kinesis Data Streams has native integrations with other AWS services such as AWS Glue and Amazon EventBridge to build real-time streaming applications on AWS. Refer to Amazon Kinesis Data Streams integrations for additional details.

Modern data streaming architecture with Kinesis Data Streams

A modern streaming data architecture with Kinesis Data Streams can be designed as a stack of five logical layers; each layer is composed of multiple purpose-built components that address specific requirements, as illustrated in the following diagram:

The architecture consists of the following key components:

  • Streaming sources – Your source of streaming data includes data sources like clickstream data, sensors, social media, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, log files generated by using your web and mobile applications, and mobile devices that generate semi-structured and unstructured data as continuous streams at high velocity.
  • Stream ingestion – The stream ingestion layer is responsible for ingesting data into the stream storage layer. It provides the ability to collect data from tens of thousands of data sources and ingest in real time. You can use the Kinesis SDK for ingesting streaming data through APIs, the Kinesis Producer Library for building high-performance and long-running streaming producers, or a Kinesis agent for collecting a set of files and ingesting them into Kinesis Data Streams. In addition, you can use many pre-build integrations such as AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS), Amazon DynamoDB, and AWS IoT Core to ingest data in a no-code fashion. You can also ingest data from third-party platforms such as Apache Spark and Apache Kafka Connect
  • Stream storage – Kinesis Data Streams offer two modes to support the data throughput: On-Demand and Provisioned. On-Demand mode, now the default choice, can elastically scale to absorb variable throughputs, so that customers do not need to worry about capacity management and pay by data throughput. The On-Demand mode automatically scales up 2x the stream capacity over its historic maximum data ingestion to provide sufficient capacity for unexpected spikes in data ingestion. Alternatively, customers who want granular control over stream resources can use the Provisioned mode and proactively scale up and down the number of Shards to meet their throughput requirements. Additionally, Kinesis Data Streams can store streaming data up to 24 hours by default, but can extend to 7 days or 365 days depending upon use cases. Multiple applications can consume the same stream.
  • Stream processing – The stream processing layer is responsible for transforming data into a consumable state through data validation, cleanup, normalization, transformation, and enrichment. The streaming records are read in the order they are produced, allowing for real-time analytics, building event-driven applications or streaming ETL (extract, transform, and load). You can use Amazon Managed Service for Apache Flink for complex stream data processing, AWS Lambda for stateless stream data processing, and AWS Glue & Amazon EMR for near-real-time compute. You can also build customized consumer applications with Kinesis Consumer Library, which will take care of many complex tasks associated with distributed computing.
  • Destination – The destination layer is like a purpose-built destination depending on your use case. You can stream data directly to Amazon Redshift for data warehousing and Amazon EventBridge for building event-driven applications. You can also use Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose for streaming integration where you can light stream processing with AWS Lambda, and then deliver processed streaming into destinations like Amazon S3 data lake, OpenSearch Service for operational analytics, a Redshift data warehouse, No-SQL databases like Amazon DynamoDB, and relational databases like Amazon RDS to consume real-time streams into business applications. The destination can be an event-driven application for real-time dashboards, automatic decisions based on processed streaming data, real-time altering, and more.

Real-time analytics architecture for time series

Time series data is a sequence of data points recorded over a time interval for measuring events that change over time. Examples are stock prices over time, webpage clickstreams, and device logs over time. Customers can use time series data to monitor changes over time, so that they can detect anomalies, identify patterns, and analyze how certain variables are influenced over time. Time series data is typically generated from multiple sources in high volumes, and it needs to be cost-effectively collected in near real time.

Typically, there are three primary goals that customers want to achieve in processing time-series data:

  • Gain insights real-time into system performance and detect anomalies
  • Understand end-user behavior to track trends and query/build visualizations from these insights
  • Have a durable storage solution to ingest and store both archival and frequently accessed data.

With Kinesis Data Streams, customers can continuously capture terabytes of time series data from thousands of sources for cleaning, enrichment, storage, analysis, and visualization.

The following architecture pattern illustrates how real time analytics can be achieved for Time Series data with Kinesis Data Streams:

Build a serverless streaming data pipeline for time series data

The workflow steps are as follows:

  1. Data Ingestion & Storage – Kinesis Data Streams can continuously capture and store terabytes of data from thousands of sources.
  2. Stream Processing – An application created with Amazon Managed Service for Apache Flink can read the records from the data stream to detect and clean any errors in the time series data and enrich the data with specific metadata to optimize operational analytics. Using a data stream in the middle provides the advantage of using the time series data in other processes and solutions at the same time. A Lambda function is then invoked with these events, and can perform time series calculations in memory.
  3. Destinations – After cleaning and enrichment, the processed time series data can be streamed to Amazon Timestream database for real-time dashboarding and analysis, or stored in databases such as DynamoDB for end-user query. The raw data can be streamed to Amazon S3 for archiving.
  4. Visualization & Gain insights – Customers can query, visualize, and create alerts using Amazon Managed Service for Grafana. Grafana supports data sources that are storage backends for time series data. To access your data from Timestream, you need to install the Timestream plugin for Grafana. End-users can query data from the DynamoDB table with Amazon API Gateway acting as a proxy.

Refer to Near Real-Time Processing with Amazon Kinesis, Amazon Timestream, and Grafana showcasing a serverless streaming pipeline to process and store device telemetry IoT data into a time series optimized data store such as Amazon Timestream.

Enriching & replaying data in real time for event-sourcing microservices

Microservices are an architectural and organizational approach to software development where software is composed of small independent services that communicate over well-defined APIs. When building event-driven microservices, customers want to achieve 1. high scalability to handle the volume of incoming events and 2. reliability of event processing and maintain system functionality in the face of failures.

Customers utilize microservice architecture patterns to accelerate innovation and time-to-market for new features, because it makes applications easier to scale and faster to develop. However, it is challenging to enrich and replay the data in a network call to another microservice because it can impact the reliability of the application and make it difficult to debug and trace errors. To solve this problem, event-sourcing is an effective design pattern that centralizes historic records of all state changes for enrichment and replay, and decouples read from write workloads. Customers can use Kinesis Data Streams as the centralized event store for event-sourcing microservices, because KDS can 1/ handle gigabytes of data throughput per second per stream and stream the data in milliseconds, to meet the requirement on high scalability and near real-time latency, 2/ integrate with Flink and S3 for data enrichment and achieving while being completely decoupled from the microservices, and 3/ allow retry and asynchronous read in a later time, because KDS retains the data record for a default of 24 hours, and optionally up to 365 days.

The following architectural pattern is a generic illustration of how Kinesis Data Streams can be used for Event-Sourcing Microservices:

The steps in the workflow are as follows:

  1. Data Ingestion and Storage – You can aggregate the input from your microservices to your Kinesis Data Streams for storage.
  2. Stream processing Apache Flink Stateful Functions simplifies building distributed stateful event-driven applications. It can receive the events from an input Kinesis data stream and route the resulting stream to an output data stream. You can create a stateful functions cluster with Apache Flink based on your application business logic.
  3. State snapshot in Amazon S3 – You can store the state snapshot in Amazon S3 for tracking.
  4. Output streams – The output streams can be consumed through Lambda remote functions through HTTP/gRPC protocol through API Gateway.
  5. Lambda remote functions – Lambda functions can act as microservices for various application and business logic to serve business applications and mobile apps.

To learn how other customers built their event-based microservices with Kinesis Data Streams, refer to the following:

Key considerations and best practices

The following are considerations and best practices to keep in mind:

  • Data discovery should be your first step in building modern data streaming applications. You must define the business value and then identify your streaming data sources and user personas to achieve the desired business outcomes.
  • Choose your streaming data ingestion tool based on your steaming data source. For example, you can use the Kinesis SDK for ingesting streaming data through APIs, the Kinesis Producer Library for building high-performance and long-running streaming producers, a Kinesis agent for collecting a set of files and ingesting them into Kinesis Data Streams, AWS DMS for CDC streaming use cases, and AWS IoT Core for ingesting IoT device data into Kinesis Data Streams. You can ingest streaming data directly into Amazon Redshift to build low-latency streaming applications. You can also use third-party libraries like Apache Spark and Apache Kafka to ingest streaming data into Kinesis Data Streams.
  • You need to choose your streaming data processing services based on your specific use case and business requirements. For example, you can use Amazon Kinesis Managed Service for Apache Flink for advanced streaming use cases with multiple streaming destinations and complex stateful stream processing or if you want to monitor business metrics in real time (such as every hour). Lambda is good for event-based and stateless processing. You can use Amazon EMR for streaming data processing to use your favorite open source big data frameworks. AWS Glue is good for near-real-time streaming data processing for use cases such as streaming ETL.
  • Kinesis Data Streams on-demand mode charges by usage and automatically scales up resource capacity, so it’s good for spiky streaming workloads and hands-free maintenance. Provisioned mode charges by capacity and requires proactive capacity management, so it’s good for predictable streaming workloads.
  • You can use the Kinesis Shard Calculator to calculate the number of shards needed for provisioned mode. You don’t need to be concerned about shards with on-demand mode.
  • When granting permissions, you decide who is getting what permissions to which Kinesis Data Streams resources. You enable specific actions that you want to allow on those resources. Therefore, you should grant only the permissions that are required to perform a task. You can also encrypt the data at rest by using a KMS customer managed key (CMK).
  • You can update the retention period via the Kinesis Data Streams console or by using the IncreaseStreamRetentionPeriod and the DecreaseStreamRetentionPeriod operations based on your specific use cases.
  • Kinesis Data Streams supports resharding. The recommended API for this function is UpdateShardCount, which allows you to modify the number of shards in your stream to adapt to changes in the rate of data flow through the stream. The resharding APIs (Split and Merge) are typically used to handle hot shards.


This post demonstrated various architectural patterns for building low-latency streaming applications with Kinesis Data Streams. You can build your own low-latency steaming applications with Kinesis Data Streams using the information in this post.

For detailed architectural patterns, refer to the following resources:

If you want to build a data vision and strategy, check out the AWS Data-Driven Everything (D2E) program.

About the Authors

Raghavarao Sodabathina is a Principal Solutions Architect at AWS, focusing on Data Analytics, AI/ML, and cloud security. He engages with customers to create innovative solutions that address customer business problems and to accelerate the adoption of AWS services. In his spare time, Raghavarao enjoys spending time with his family, reading books, and watching movies.

Hang Zuo is a Senior Product Manager on the Amazon Kinesis Data Streams team at Amazon Web Services. He is passionate about developing intuitive product experiences that solve complex customer problems and enable customers to achieve their business goals.

Shwetha Radhakrishnan is a Solutions Architect for AWS with a focus in Data Analytics. She has been building solutions that drive cloud adoption and help organizations make data-driven decisions within the public sector. Outside of work, she loves dancing, spending time with friends and family, and traveling.

Brittany Ly is a Solutions Architect at AWS. She is focused on helping enterprise customers with their cloud adoption and modernization journey and has an interest in the security and analytics field. Outside of work, she loves to spend time with her dog and play pickleball.