PubSub, Queues, and Polling

For building resilient systems, best practices suggest a separation between different components of the infrastructure. Databases, queues, and logs play a critical role in this separation, bridging the gap between parts of the system that generate data (events, records, etc.) and those that consume it. In streaming systems, queues and logs are particularly prominent. Popular platforms in this domain include Kafka, RabbitMQ, SQS, NATS, and Redpanda.

In this section of the Bytewax documentation, we unpack various delivery semantics commonly encountered in data systems, specifically streaming systems. Understanding these concepts is crucial for designing efficient and reliable data processing systems. We'll cover some of the more common patterns encountered and briefly explain how they can be accomplished or not with Bytewax.

The most commonly used patterns with data infrastructure are listed below:

  • Request/Response,
  • Request/ACK,
  • Request/Forget,
  • PubSub,
  • Mailbox, and
  • Polling.


The Request/Response pattern is a synchronous communication method where a request is sent to a service, and the sender waits for a response. This pattern is typical in RESTful APIs and database queries. It is not common in stream processing systems.


Request/ACK extends the basic request/response pattern by adding an acknowledgment step. The receiver sends an ACK message back to the sender to confirm receipt. This pattern is more common in distributed systems and acknowledgment patterns are often used with queues like AWS SQS and RabbitMQ. The consumer of the message will acknowledge the successful processing. For exactly-once guarantees the acknowledgement needs to be coordinated with the successful delivery to the final part of the system. For example, the service would acknowledge successful processing once it has written the data to a database after finishing processing.


Request/Forget is an asynchronous pattern where the sender emits a request and immediately moves on without waiting for a response or acknowledgment. It's useful for logging, metrics collection, or any scenario where the sender doesn't need confirmation of receipt or processing. Bytewax can fulfill this pattern when coupled with a system that can decouple the request effectively from the processing. One example would be to use Redpanda or Kafka with an HTTP proxy and Bytewax consuming from the Kafka/Redpanda topic.

PubSub (Publish/Subscribe)

PubSub is a messaging paradigm where messages are published to topics and received by subscribers. It's inherently asynchronous and supports one-to-many communication. Ideal for broadcasting data, like stock price updates, where multiple consumers might be interested in the same data. Kafka is one of the most common pubsub systems that can be used with Bytewax.


The Mailbox pattern is similar to an email system. Messages are sent to a mailbox where they are stored until the recipient retrieves them. NATS provides a convenient cloud native Queue with mailbox semantics that can be coupled with a stream processor to process the message. This pattern is useful in scenarios where message ordering is crucial, or when the recipient processes messages at their own pace, like task queues for asynchronous job processing. A mailbox pattern can also be used in a request/response pattern when the publisher of the message to the mailbox waits for the mailbox to receive a new message when processing is complete.


Polling involves regularly querying or checking a source for new data or updates. It's a simple but effective way to retrieve data from sources that don't support push mechanisms. Polling is common in scenarios where the data source doesn't support real-time updates, like checking for updates from a third-party API. Since many systems are not designed for push capabilities, under the hood, polling is often used in a very eager manner. An example of this is Kafka consumers. Kafka consumers poll kafka eagerly for new data giving the appearance of a push-based system.

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