Azure Schema Registry in Event Hubs (Preview)

In many event streaming and messaging scenarios, the event or message payload contains structured data that's either being serialized or deserialized using a schema-driven format like Apache Avro. Both senders and receivers may want to validate the integrity of the data with a schema document as with JSON schema. For schema-driven formats, making the schema available to the message consumer is a prerequisite for the consumer to be able to deserialize the data.

The Azure Schema Registry is a feature of Event Hubs, which provides a central repository for schema documents for event-driven and messaging-centric applications. It provides the flexibility for your producer and consumer applications to exchange data without having to manage and share the schema between them and also to evolve at different rates. The Schema Registry also provides a simple governance framework for reusable schemas and defines the relationship between schemas through a grouping construct (schema groups).

Note

  • The Schema Registry feature is currently in preview, and is not recommended for production workloads.
  • The feature isn't available in the basic tier.

With schema-driven serialization frameworks like Apache Avro, externalizing serialization metadata into shared schemas can also help with dramatically reducing the per-message overhead of type information and field names included with every data set as it's the case with tagged formats such as JSON. Having schemas stored alongside the events and inside the eventing infrastructure ensures that the metadata required for serialization/de-serialization is always in reach and schemas can't be misplaced.

Event Hubs namespace

An Event Hubs namespace now can host schema groups alongside event hubs (or Kafka topics). It hosts a schema registry and can have multiple schema groups. In spite of being hosted in Azure Event Hubs, the schema registry can be used universally with all Azure messaging services and any other message or events broker. Each of these schema groups is a separately securable repository for a set of schemas. Groups can be aligned with a particular application or an organizational unit.

Schema groups

Schema group is a logical group of similar schemas based on your business criteria. A schema group can hold multiple versions of a schema. The compatibility enforcement setting on a schema group can help ensure that newer schema versions are backwards compatible.

The security boundary imposed by the grouping mechanism help ensures that trade secrets don't inadvertently leak through metadata in situations where the namespace is shared among multiple partners. It also allows for application owners to manage schemas independent of other applications that share the same namespace.

Schemas

Schemas define the contract between the producers and the consumers. A schema defined in an Event Hubs schema registry helps manage the contract outside of event data, thus removing the payload overhead. A schema has a name, type (example: record, array, and so on.), compatibility mode (none, forward, backward, full), and serialization type (only Avro for now). You can create multiple versions of a schema and retrieve and use a specific version of a schema.

Client SDKs

You can use one of the following libraries that include an Avro serializer, which you can use to serialize and deserialize payloads containing Schema Registry schema identifiers and Avro-encoded data.

The following image shows the information flow of the schema registry with Event Hubs:

Flow diagram

Limits

For limits (for example: number of schema groups in a namespace) of Event Hubs, see Event Hubs quotas and limits

Azure role-based access control

When accessing the schema registry programmatically, you need to register an application in Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and add the security principal of the application to one of the Azure role-based access control (Azure RBAC) roles:

Role Description
Owner Read, write, and delete Schema Registry groups and schemas.
Contributor Read, write, and delete Schema Registry groups and schemas.
Schema Registry Reader (Preview) Read and list Schema Registry groups and schemas.
Schema Registry Contributor (Preview) Read, write, and delete Schema Registry groups and schemas.

For instructions on creating registering an application using the Azure portal, see Register an app with Azure AD. Note down the client ID (application ID), tenant ID, and the secret to use in the code.

Next steps