Chapter 10. Scaling clusters by adding or removing brokers

Scaling Kafka clusters by adding brokers can increase the performance and reliability of the cluster. Adding more brokers increases available resources, allowing the cluster to handle larger workloads and process more messages. It can also improve fault tolerance by providing more replicas and backups. Conversely, removing underutilized brokers can reduce resource consumption and improve efficiency. Scaling must be done carefully to avoid disruption or data loss. By redistributing partitions across all brokers in the cluster, the resource utilization of each broker is reduced, which can increase the overall throughput of the cluster.


To increase the throughput of a Kafka topic, you can increase the number of partitions for that topic. This allows the load of the topic to be shared between different brokers in the cluster. However, if every broker is constrained by a specific resource (such as I/O), adding more partitions will not increase the throughput. In this case, you need to add more brokers to the cluster.

Adjusting the Kafka.spec.kafka.replicas configuration affects the number of brokers in the cluster that act as replicas. The actual replication factor for topics is determined by settings for the default.replication.factor and min.insync.replicas, and the number of available brokers. For example, a replication factor of 3 means that each partition of a topic is replicated across three brokers, ensuring fault tolerance in the event of a broker failure.

Example replica configuration

kind: Kafka
  name: my-cluster
    replicas: 3
    # ...
  config: 1
      # ...
      default.replication.factor: 3
      min.insync.replicas: 2
 # ...

When you add add or remove brokers, Kafka does not automatically reassign partitions. The best way to do this is using Cruise Control. You can use Cruise Control’s add-brokers and remove-brokers modes when scaling a cluster up or down.

  • Use the add-brokers mode after scaling up a Kafka cluster to move partition replicas from existing brokers to the newly added brokers.
  • Use the remove-brokers mode before scaling down a Kafka cluster to move partition replicas off the brokers that are going to be removed.

When scaling down brokers, you cannot specify which specific pod to remove from the cluster. Instead, the broker removal process starts from the highest numbered pod.