Top 8 things you should know about deploying RabbitMQ

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RabbitMQ is a household name in the world of application development and system architecture. Acting as a middleman for communication, it seamlessly bridges the gap between various application components. If you’ve been contemplating the integration of RabbitMQ into your infrastructure or simply want to better understand its functionalities, this blog post is for you. 

Here are the top 8 things to know:

The origin of RabbitMQ

RabbitMQ was originally developed by LShift and CohesiveFT in 2007. The founding team consisted of Alexis Richardson, Rob Harrop, Lyle Franklin, and Richard Davies. The founders saw the potential for a robust messaging system that could handle the complexities of message routing, queuing, and delivery across various applications and services.

The project was open-sourced in 2009 and acquired by Pivotal Software in 2010. RabbitMQ is now maintained by the RabbitMQ community. It quickly gained popularity within the software development community due to its adherence to AMQP standards, robustness, flexibility, and active development community. Over time, RabbitMQ evolved with new features, optimizations, and improved performance, solidifying its place as one of the leading message brokers in the industry.

The name “RabbitMQ” is a play on the word “message queue”. The rabbit is a symbol of speed and agility, which are two of the key features of RabbitMQ. RabbitMQ’s origin story reflects the collaborative nature of open-source software development and the vision of its creators to address real-world challenges in distributed computing. Today, RabbitMQ continues to play a crucial role in facilitating communication between microservices, applications, and systems, powering a wide range of industries and use cases.

Exchanges and Queues

One of the foundational elements of RabbitMQ’s architecture is its concept of exchanges and queues. This mechanism ensures that messages traverse efficiently through the system, reaching their intended destinations. However, to fully harness the power of RabbitMQ, it’s essential to understand this core concept and the intricate relationship between exchanges and queues.</span

At a high level, in RabbitMQ, messages are not directly sent to the queues. Instead, producers send messages to exchanges. Think of exchanges as post offices: they receive items and decide where to route them based on set rules. These rules, termed as bindings, determine which queues the message should be forwarded to. This mechanism provides an abstraction layer, allowing for the decoupling of message producers from consumers, which aids in creating scalable and maintainable systems.

The versatility of RabbitMQ shines through its different types of exchanges, each serving unique routing needs. Here’s a deeper look:

Direct Exchange: This is akin to a direct delivery system. Messages sent through a direct exchange are routed using a key, called the routing key. If the key matches a specific queue binding, the message is delivered to that queue.

Topic Exchange: This exchange type introduces a bit more flexibility. Instead of exact matches, it routes messages based on wildcard patterns. For example, a routing key ‘logs.error.db’ can be directed to a queue that handles database error logs.

Fanout Exchange: Think of fanout exchanges as broadcasters. They don’t bother with routing keys. Instead, they send any message they receive to all the queues they’re connected to, making them ideal for broadcast-type scenarios.

Headers Exchange: Venturing off the beaten path, headers exchanges don’t rely on routing keys at all. They use message headers for routing decisions. This allows for more complex routing based on multiple criteria, providing a multi-dimensional approach to message delivery.

The Importance of Bindings: Binding is the rule set that exchanges use to determine where to route messages. In essence, bindings are the glue that connects exchanges to queues. They can be thought of as conditions or filters. For example, in a direct exchange, a binding might dictate that messages with the routing key ‘error’ go to the ‘error_logs’ queue.

The choice of exchange type and the configuration of bindings directly impact the efficiency and reliability of message delivery in a RabbitMQ system. For instance, a misconfigured binding might lead to messages not being delivered to any queue, causing them to be lost. On the other hand, an effectively set up exchange-queue mechanism can ensure that messages reach their intended destinations in the most optimal way, even in complex scenarios with numerous producers and consumers.

The AMQP Protocol

The Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) is a communication protocol designed to facilitate efficient, reliable, and interoperable messaging between different software systems. It’s particularly useful in scenarios where applications, services, or devices need to communicate asynchronously, exchanging data and messages in a decoupled and scalable manner. AMQP has gained significant adoption in various industries and use cases, including financial services, telecommunications, IoT, and more.

At its core, AMQP defines a set of rules and conventions for how messages should be structured, routed, and delivered across a network. It provides a standardized way for producers (senders) and consumers (receivers) to exchange messages via an intermediary known as a message broker. This broker manages the routing, queuing, and delivery of messages, ensuring that they reach their intended destinations efficiently.

One of AMQP’s key strengths is its flexibility. It supports various messaging patterns, including point-to-point (one producer, one consumer), publish-subscribe (one producer, multiple consumers), request-response, and more. This versatility allows developers to choose the pattern that best suits their application’s requirements.

In an AMQP-based system, messages are sent to exchanges by producers. Exchanges are routing mechanisms that determine how messages should be delivered to queues based on routing keys. Queues hold the messages until they are consumed by consumers. This decoupling between producers and consumers enables efficient load balancing, fault tolerance, and scalability. It’s components are: exchanges, queues, bindings, channels, acknowledgements, and transactions.

Containerized RabbitMQ

Running RabbitMQ in a container offers several advantages, harmonizing well with the modern trends of application deployment and scaling. Containers, especially those orchestrated by systems like Docker, encapsulate RabbitMQ along with its dependencies, ensuring a consistent and reproducible environment across different stages of development, testing, and production.

This isolated nature of containers not only facilitates easy versioning and rollbacks but also seamlessly integrates with cluster management systems like Kubernetes, enabling scalable and fault-tolerant RabbitMQ deployments. While containerization abstracts away a lot of infrastructure complexities, it’s vital to ensure that configurations like persistent storage for message durability and proper network settings for inter-container communication are adequately managed to fully harness RabbitMQ’s capabilities within a containerized ecosystem.

Running on Docker

Create a RabbitMQ Docker container by running the following command to pull the RabbitMQ Docker image:

docker pull rabbitmq:3-management

Then use the following command to run the RabbitMQ Docker container:

docker run -d –hostname my-rabbit –name some-rabbit rabbitmq:3-management

Generally speaking, the advantages of running RabbitMQ as a Docker container outweigh the disadvantages. If you are looking for a portable, scalable, and secure way to deploy RabbitMQ, then Docker is a good option to consider.

Running on Kubernetes

The best way to run RabbitMQ on Kubernetes is to make use of the Helm chart available for it. The steps to be taken are:

    1. Create a namespace for RabbitMQ.
    2. Install the RabbitMQ Helm chart
    3. Configure the RabbitMQ Helm chart.
    4. Deploy the RabbitMQ Helm chart.

Which can be achieved by running the following:

helm install stable/rabbitmq

kubectl create namespace rabbitmq

helm install rabbitmq stable/rabbitmq –namespace rabbitmq

To configure the RabbitMQ Helm chart, you can edit the values.yaml file. In this file, you can specify the number of RabbitMQ nodes, the amount of memory and CPU that each node should have, and other configuration options. Once configured, the RabbitMQ instance is ready and available for use.

Here is an example of how to connect to a RabbitMQ instance running on Kubernetes using the Python client library:

import pika


connection = pika.BlockingConnection(pika.ConnectionParameters(



username=USERNAME_STRING, //default is ‘guest’

password=PASSWORD_STRING  //default is ‘guest’


RabbitMQ Plugins

RabbitMQ plugins are extensions that add new features or functionality to RabbitMQ. They can be used to add support for new protocols, improve performance, or add security features.

Plugins are installed in the RabbitMQ server directory. To install a plugin, you can use the rabbitmq-plugins command.

For example, to install the plugin for the AMQP 0-9-1 protocol, you would use the following command:

rabbitmq-plugins enable rabbitmq_amqp091

Once a plugin is installed, it can be configured using the RabbitMQ management UI or the rabbitmqctl command-line tool.

Here are some of the most popular RabbitMQ plugins:

  • rabbitmq_management: This plugin provides a web-based management interface for RabbitMQ.
  • rabbitmq_stomp: This plugin adds support for the STOMP protocol.
  • rabbitmq_tracing: This plugin adds support for tracing messages through RabbitMQ.
  • rabbitmq_federation: This plugin allows RabbitMQ to federate with other RabbitMQ servers.
  • rabbitmq_shovel: This plugin allows RabbitMQ to replicate messages to other RabbitMQ servers.

More information about RabbitMQ plugins is available in the RabbitMQ documentation:

RabbitMQ Multiple Queue Types

RabbitMQ’s queue offerings have expanded to support a multitude of use cases. Beyond the foundational Standard Queue for general messaging, there are Delayed Message Queues for time-based message delivery and Priority Queues to manage message urgency. For enhanced resilience and fault tolerance, Mirrored Queues replicate messages across nodes, while Quorum Queues, using the Raft consensus algorithm, offer improved data safety. 

Here are some of the most common types of queues:

  • Direct queues: Direct queues are the simplest type of queue. Messages are delivered to the queue based on the routing key.
  • Fanout queues: Fanout queues are used to broadcast messages to all of the consumers that are subscribed to the queue.
  • Topic queues: Topic queues are used to filter messages based on a pattern.
  • Exclusive queues: Exclusive queues can only be used by one consumer at a time.
  • Shared queues: Shared queues can be used by multiple consumers.
  • Durable queues: Durable queues are persisted to disk, so they will not be lost if RabbitMQ restarts.
  • Transient queues: Transient queues are not persisted to disk, so they will be lost if RabbitMQ restarts.

The type of queue that you choose will depend on your specific needs. For example, if you want to broadcast messages to all of the consumers that are subscribed to a queue, then you would use a fanout queue. If you want to ensure that a message is only processed once, then you would use an exclusive queue.

RabbitMQ support for MQTT

MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) has carved a significant niche for itself, especially in the Internet of Things (IoT) domain. MQTT, a lightweight publish-subscribe protocol, is designed for low-bandwidth, high-latency, or unreliable networks, making it an optimal choice for IoT devices. Recognizing the burgeoning growth and adoption of MQTT in various applications, RabbitMQ incorporated support for this protocol, expanding its already versatile feature set.

RabbitMQ’s MQTT plugin allows it to act as an MQTT broker, bridging the gap between MQTT clients and AMQP consumers or producers. This compatibility unlocks numerous possibilities. For instance, an IoT device can send telemetry data via MQTT to RabbitMQ, which can then be processed by an AMQP consumer. The reverse can also be achieved where AMQP producers send messages to MQTT subscribers.

Setting up RabbitMQ with MQTT support is quite straightforward. After ensuring RabbitMQ is installed and running, simply enable the MQTT plugin:

rabbitmq-plugins enable rabbitmq_mqtt

Once activated, RabbitMQ will be equipped to accept MQTT connections on the default port 1883. It’s worth noting that the plugin also supports MQTT over WebSockets, providing even more flexibility for web-based applications.

RabbitMQ Clustering for High Availability

Clustering in RabbitMQ is a pivotal feature, enhancing its robustness and ensuring seamless operation even when individual nodes face issues. By clustering, multiple RabbitMQ nodes are interconnected to operate as a single, logical broker. This interconnectedness means queues, exchanges, and bindings get replicated across the cluster, ensuring no single point of failure.

In practice, if one node in the cluster fails, the remaining nodes can take over its tasks, guaranteeing high availability and fault tolerance. Such a setup is ideal for applications demanding constant uptime and zero disruptions.

Establishing a RabbitMQ cluster involves a straightforward process. For instance, when setting up a basic cluster involving two nodes, the steps should look something like this:

Start the RabbitMQ Server on Node A and Node B:

Stop the RabbitMQ application on Node B (not the server itself) to set up clustering:

Reset Node B to clear any previous data:

Cluster Node B with Node A:

rabbitmqctl join_cluster rabbit@NodeA

Start the RabbitMQ application on Node B:

Now, Node A and Node B are clustered. You can check the cluster status with:

rabbitmqctl cluster_status

Nodes can be dynamically added or removed based on needs, and with mirrored queues, messages are also duplicated across nodes for added redundancy. Such setups are ideal for large-scale, mission-critical applications that cannot afford any downtime.

Hopportunities to Contribute

As with many robust technologies, RabbitMQ’s journey has been an evolutionary one. Born out of a need to streamline communication between diverse application components, its functionalities have been meticulously built out as feedback and requirements from the developer community have poured in. This iterative relationship has propelled RabbitMQ from a promising message broker to an indispensable tool for modern application architecture. The vast array of features and optimizations present in RabbitMQ today are a testament to the symbiotic relationship between open-source technologies and their dedicated communities.

If you’ve found value in this overview of RabbitMQ and its capabilities, remember that the ecosystem thrives on contributions and collaborative growth. As you explore and potentially integrate RabbitMQ into your projects, consider contributing back, whether by sharing knowledge, coding plugins, or even just providing feedback. There’s a dynamic and welcoming community waiting, always eager for new ideas and members to continue shaping the future of RabbitMQ.