Introduction to Message Queue Architecture

Introduction to Message Queue Architecture

Before you can start to understand what a message queue is or how one works, it's important to break down the two elements that make up a message queue:

  • The Message: The message is a piece of data that passes between a sender and a receiver. It can be a plain message, status code, or a command that executes a task at the receiver's end.
  • The Queue: The queue is a series of programs that are awaiting a recipient to consume and execute them. Queues are executed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

With the use of a message queue, you can tie together your distributed systems and applications to enable asynchronous communication. Message queues (MQs) give you the ability to send and store messages using a temporary buffer (the queue) until the destination program is able to receive and process the message.

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Table of Contents

Why Does Asynchronous Matter?

Being asynchronous, the message queue has a communication protocol that puts each message or task into the queue and continues processing and accepting requests as available, without waiting for a response from a consumer. Consumers are able to process messages/tasks at any time, whenever they become available.

When a consumer processes a task, it is removed from the queue. In a point-to-point message queue, messages are only received by one consumer and are then removed from the queue. In a messaging system with a pub-sub pattern, the messages will be consumed by all subscribers to a given message topic/category before they are removed.

Message Queue Architecture

The architecture of a message queue involves both client applications, which are called "producers," and server destination services, which are called "consumers." In a message queue, the producers create messages and put them into the queue for processing. Consumers retrieve messages from the queue to process them.

Why Use a Message Queue?

Today, most companies are dealing with applications that are based in the cloud. This typically makes them decoupled, with many smaller and distributed blocks acting together to form the application. This type of development is easier to deploy and manage, but it can lead to gaps if you don't have the right messaging system in place.

A message queue helps improve coordination and communication across your distributed applications and services. Imagine a system where a process needs to pass the results of a task onto the next independent process for things to keep working. In this instance, the process needs to invoke other processes, and the second process can't continue until the first process is finished.

A messaging queue allows the first process to continue without needing to wait for the other processes to respond. Instead, each process can complete its tasks and push a message/result into the queue for execution, allowing the process to continue with its next task. The second process will then retrieve the message from the queue when it's ready and begin to execute.

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Types of Messaging Queues

As touched on above, there are two types of messaging queues: point-to-point queues and publish/subscribe queues. Here's what you need to know about each.


  • Producers and consumers can use the queue at the same time.
  • Each message can only be processed once by a single consumer.
  • The producer must know the receiving application's information, like the queue name, before it can send a message.
  • Messages may be received out of order.


  • A single message can be processed by more than one consumer.
  • Service-to-service communication is a method primarily used by serverless or microservice environments.
  • Message topics are used to broadcast messages to subscribers of that topic, who all receive the message.
  • Messages are received in the same order broadcasted.

Analyzing both types of messaging queues side by side is important, as each has its own set of use cases that are specific to what you're trying to achieve.

Introduction to Message Queue Architecture

How Iron Can Help

Are you looking for a messaging system that will work for your environment? IronMQ is the fastest messaging queue on the market, offering both point-to-point and publish-subscribe solutions that can power your distributed systems and bring visibility and connection into your serverless environment.

It's faster than RabbitMQ and more feature-full than any other messaging queue out there. It's highly reliable, available, and persistent by design, ensuring that your systems run smoothly and effortlessly while optimizing processes and boosting efficiency across the board. With Iron, you can reduce runtime errors, minimize downtime, and maximize the performance of your distributed systems.

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