Zookeeper is completely a separate system having its own configuration file syntax, management tools, and deployment patterns. In-depth skill with experience is necessary to manage and deploy two individual distributed systems and eventually up and running Kafka cluster. The person who manages both the system together should have enough troubleshooting information to find out issues in both the systems.
There could be a possibility of making mistake on Zookeeper’s configuration files that might lead to breaking down of Kafka cluster. So having expertise in Kafka administration without Zookeeper won’t be able to help to come out from the crisis especially in the production environment where Zookeeper runs on a completely isolated environment (Cloud). Even though to setup and configure a single-node Kafka cluster for learning and R&D, we can’t proceed without Zookeeper.
Read on for the rest of the answer, as well as how Kafka is dis-integrating Zookeeper.