Kafka is not the Ferrari of messaging middleware, rather it is the salt flats rocket car. It is fast, but don’t expect to find an AUX jack for your iPhone. Everything is stripped down for speed.
Compared to other messaging middleware, the core is simpler and handles fewer features. It is a transaction log and its job is to take the message you sent asynchronously and write it to disk as soon as possible, returning an acknowledgement once it is committed via an optional callback. You can force a degree of synchronicity by chaining a get to the send call, but that is kind of cheating Kafka’s intention. It does not send it on to a receiver. It only does pub-sub. It does not handle back pressure for you.
I like this as a high-level overview of the different options available. Definitely gets a More Research Is Required tag, but this post helps you figure out where to go next.