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Spotify is a streaming music company with more than 50 million users. Whenever a user listens to a song, Spotify records that event and uses it as input to learn more about the user’s preferences. Listening to a song is one type of event–there are hundreds of others. Opening the Spotify app, skipping a song, sharing a playlist with a friend–all of these are events that provide valuable insights to Spotify.
These are not the only types of events that Spotify cares about. There are also events that occur at the infrastructure level–for example a logging server that runs out of disk space. There are events that are relevant to all the users on Spotify–for example a new album release from Taylor Swift.
An “event” is an object that needs to be registered within a system. Since there are so many events on a platform like Spotify, delivering and processing them reliably requires significant investment.
Modern Internet companies are built by connecting cloud services, databases, and internal tools together. These different systems might respond to different events in different ways. Each system subscribes to the types of events that it wants to hear. Since there are so many events, and they might be received at uneven bursts, a modern architecture has a scalable queueing system to buffer events.
To put an event on the queue, the event producer “publishes” that event to the queue. The event is then received by each “subscriber.” That’s why queueing is often known as pub/sub–publish/subscribe.
Igor Maravic is an engineer with Spotify. In this episode, he explains why pub/sub is a key element of Spotify’s infrastructure–and he describes the migration that Spotify has made from Apache Kafka to Google Cloud Pubsub.
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