What Is an Event-Driven Architecture?

An Event-Driven Architecture for data and applications is a modern design approach centered around data that describes “events” (i.e., something that just happened). Examples of events include the taking of a measurement, the pressing of a button, or the swiping of a credit card.

An event-driven architecture enables applications to act on these events as they occur. This is in contrast to traditional architectures, which largely dealt with data as batches of information to be inserted and updated at some defined interval, and responded to user-initiated requests rather than new information.

Event-driven architectures create, detect, consume, and react to events. Common concepts in event-driven architectures include publishers, subscribers, sources, and sinks. The publisher is the component that captures the event data and stores it in a repository. The subscriber then consumes and potentially responds to the event. Sources are where the data originates, and sinks are destinations where subscribers send data.

With a scalable event-driven architecture, you can both create and respond to a large number of events in real time. An event-driven architecture is particularly well-suited for loosely coupled software, such as microservices. Event-driven architectures work well with unpredictable, non-linear events, so they are very versatile.

a common event-driven architecture design pattern
This diagram represents a common event-driven architecture design pattern, in which events feed actions in applications and repositories. The event is generated by some action, is fed through a connector or broker, then is processed, usually in a stream processing platform, and finally, a result is delivered to an application or repository.

Event-Driven Applications

With an event-driven architecture, applications can respond to data as it is generated. The event-driven approach has become extremely popular in recent years thanks to both the explosion in data sources that generate events (IoT sensors, for example) and the development and adoption of technologies that process event streams, such as Hazelcast Jet and Apache Kafka®. The event-driven approach enables businesses to think of their operations and the data they generate as a series of ongoing events, rather than as a handful of metrics on a weekly or quarterly report.

As an example, consider the fictional characters Tina and Tara, who have lived in several locations. If we performed an address lookup in a traditional batch-based design with data updates, we would see their address as it is currently recorded.

With an event-driven architecture, we can still ask: “What is Tina and Tara’s address now?”

And we can also ask: “What was Tina and Tara’s address in 2014?”

Or: “What was Tina’s last address before she shared an address with Tara?”

Event-driven applications are common for use cases including IoT, fraud detection, payment processing, website monitoring, and real-time marketing. Event-driven applications often treat data as immutable, or unchangeable, making it easy to look up the values of data at previous points in time. So whenever information “changes,” what actually happens is that a new data point is created with a new time period.


Not all events necessarily trigger an action by the application. Consider the case of IoT sensor data. In an application looking for anomalies in the sensor data, there may be millions of non-anomalous events that occur without ever triggering the application to act.

Event-Driven Architectures and Microservices

Event-driven architectures are particularly popular for microservices-based software applications. Microservices are built to perform very specific tasks, and these tasks are often based on the occurrence of some event. Therefore, event-driven architectures often form the backbone of microservices.

Related Topics


Microservices Architecture

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