What is RabbitMQ?

RabbitMQ is open-source message broker software that facilitates communication between different parts of a distributed system or between different applications. It is part of the AMQP (Advanced Message Queuing Protocol) standard but can also be used with other popular messaging solutions such as MQTT to provide a scalable and reliable platform for exchanging messages.

RabbitMQ gives separate applications, devices, and platforms a common place to send or receive messages safely. RabbitMQ is well-suited to microservice architectures where some parts of an application publish messages (producers), others consume them (consumers), and RabbitMQ routes the messages between producers and consumers. If no service or consumers can handle a given message, RabbitMQ keeps the message in a queue until it can be delivered.

How does RabbitMQ work?

A RabbitMQ broker is a logical grouping of one or several Erlang nodes with each node running the RabbitMQ application. Each node is a standalone server or process that runs RabbitMQ software and can handle messaging tasks. RabbitMQ nodes can work together to form a RabbitMQ cluster, which provides benefits like high availability, scalability, and load balancing. A RabbitMQ cluster is a logical grouping of one or several nodes, each sharing users, virtual hosts, queues, exchanges, bindings, runtime parameters and other distributed states.

Here's how RabbitMQ works:

Producers and Consumers:

  • Producers: These are applications or components that generate and send messages to RabbitMQ. Producers create messages and publish them to RabbitMQ.
  • Consumers: These are applications or components that receive and process messages from RabbitMQ. Consumers subscribe to specific queues and consume messages from them.


  • Fundamental to RabbitMQ is the message. Messages are composed of a set of headers and a binary payload. It is the responsibility of the application to parse the headers and use this information to interpret the payload.
  • RabbitMQ itself is agnostic to the message content and allows you to use messages in the format that best suits your application's needs, provided it adheres to the appropriate AMQP like standards.


  • Exchanges are routing mechanisms in RabbitMQ that receive messages from producers and route them to the appropriate queues based on rules known as bindings.
  • Different types of exchanges (e.g., direct, topic, fanout) determine how messages are routed.

Message Queues:

  • RabbitMQ uses message queues as intermediaries to temporarily store messages sent by producers until they are consumed by consumers.
  • Queues can be created dynamically, and each queue has a name that identifies it within the RabbitMQ instance.


  • Bindings are rules that define the relationship between exchanges and queues. They specify which queues should receive messages from a particular exchange.
  • Producers publish messages to exchanges, and exchanges use bindings to determine which queues should receive those messages.

Routing Keys:

  • Routing keys are attributes associated with messages. Exchanges use routing keys to determine how to route messages to queues.
  • The matching logic depends on the type of exchange used (e.g., direct exchange routes messages based on exact matches of routing keys).

Message Delivery:

  • When a producer sends a message, it specifies the exchange and routing key.
  • RabbitMQ uses this information to route the message through the exchange to the appropriate queue(s).
  • Consumers retrieve messages from the queues they are subscribed to and process them.


  • Consumers acknowledge the successful processing of messages. Once a message is acknowledged, RabbitMQ removes it from the queue.
  • If a consumer fails to acknowledge a message (e.g., due to an error during processing), RabbitMQ can request it for later processing or move it to a dead letter queue.

Message Persistence:


  • RabbitMQ supports a publish/subscribe model, where multiple consumers can subscribe to the same queue, allowing multiple consumers to process the same message concurrently.

Clustering and High Availability:

  • RabbitMQ can be configured in a cluster to provide high availability and load balancing. Clustering allows multiple RabbitMQ nodes to work together, improving system reliability and scalability.
  • Clusters should generally consist of an odd rather than even number of nodes to ensure a “voting” majority. An odd (uneven) number of nodes make network partition recovery more predictable, with the common option of the minority automatically refusing to service commands. See: Clustering Guide — RabbitMQ for details on this and other clustering best practice.

Note: that between the producer and the consumer a message will pass through two intermediate abstractions, first an exchange and then a queue. This abstraction allows for the logical routing of messages. There can be multiple exchanges per queue, multiple queues per exchange, or a one-to-one mapping between queues and exchanges.

How RabbitMQ works – An eCommerce example

Let us consider a real use case for RabbitMQ, an e-commerce system to manage order processing and inventory management. Here is how RabbitMQ can be applied in this scenario:

Use Case: Order Processing and Inventory Management in E-commerce


  • Order Service: Responsible for handling incoming customer orders.
  • Inventory Service: Tracks and manages product inventory.
  • Notification Service: Sends order confirmation emails to customers.

The Workflow:

  • Order Placement: A customer places an order on the e-commerce website, and the Order Service receives the order request.
  • Inventory Check: The Order Service needs to check if the ordered products are in stock before confirming the order. It publishes an order request message containing product details to a RabbitMQ exchange.
  • Inventory Service: The Inventory Service subscribes to a RabbitMQ exchange for incoming order requests. It receives the order request message, checks the inventory for each product, and updates the stock levels accordingly. If products are in stock, it publishes a "product available" message back to RabbitMQ.
  • Order Confirmation: The Order Service, which is also subscribed to the RabbitMQ exchange, receives the "product available" message. It processes the order, confirms it, and prepares for shipping. After confirming the order, it publishes an order confirmation message to RabbitMQ.
  • Notification Service: The Notification Service is responsible for sending order confirmation emails to customers. It subscribes to the RabbitMQ exchange for incoming order confirmation messages. When an order confirmation message is received, it sends an email to the customer, providing details about the order.

Advantages of RabbitMQ in this Use Case:

  • Asynchronous Communication: RabbitMQ allows for asynchronous communication between the Order Service, Inventory Service, and Notification Service. This means that these services can operate independently and don't need to wait for each other to complete their tasks.
  • Load Leveling: RabbitMQ helps manage the flow of messages, preventing the Inventory Service from being overwhelmed by a sudden influx of orders. It ensures that orders are processed in a controlled manner.
  • Fault Tolerance: RabbitMQ's durability features ensure that messages are not lost even in the event of system failures or crashes. This is crucial for maintaining data integrity in order processing.
  • Scalability: RabbitMQ can be deployed in a clustered configuration to handle increased load during peak shopping seasons, providing scalability as the e-commerce business grows.
  • Decoupling: RabbitMQ decouples the order processing and inventory management components, allowing them to evolve independently. If changes are made to one service, it doesn't necessarily affect the others.

Overall, RabbitMQ can play a vital role in ensuring efficient and reliable order processing and inventory management in an e-commerce system while enhancing the customer experience.

What programming languages is RabbitMQ used with?

RabbitMQ provides client libraries for various programming languages, making it accessible to developers using languages and frameworks such as: Java, Python, JavaScript (Node.js), Ruby, .NET (C#), PHP, Go, Erlang (RabbitMQ itself is implemented in Erlang) and more. See: Clients Libraries and Developer Tools — RabbitMQ for a full list.

How can I monitor RabbitMQ?

The RabbitMQ management plugin provides an HTTP-based API for management and monitoring of RabbitMQ nodes and clusters, along with a browser-based UI and a command line tool, rabbitmqadmin.

The metrics and data exposed by RabbitMQ are very good and are also exposed to external monitoring tools. Because RabbitMQ is only a small part of an application’s functionality and because the application’s performance also depends on the application server and its supporting infrastructure most developers rely on a third-party APM tool to monitor and troubleshoot RabbitMQ issues. Popular APM (Application Performance Monitoring) tools which support RabbitMQ, include: AppDynamics, Dynatrace, eG Enterprise, Datadog, New Relic and SolarWinds. Learn more about RabbitMQ monitoring with eG Enterprise here.

eG Enterprise is one of a handful of observability solutions that allow you to trace asynchronous calls across message queues and event-driven systems.

For issues that stem from underlying infrastructure, eG Enteprise will give you "related infrastructure alerts" and visibility for messaging systems such as RabbitMQ. This allows you to triage between code-related and infra-related problems so you can engage the right stakeholder. For example, if there's a disk overflow or any other critical infrastructure issue with RabbitMQ, eG Enterprise will intelligently correlate it with the impacted consumers as shown in APM topology. You will be able to quickly identify why consumers are not receiving messages and take immediate action to resolve the underlying infra problem.