A growing number of companies are considering adding MACH to their technology stack to improve speed and agility. What are the benefits of this digital transformation to business and IT departments? And is your company ready to take this step and enter the world of composable commerce?
The accelerating pace of innovation and growing customer expectations are driving technology leaders to look for alternatives to solutions based on a monolithic architecture. The monolith has complex scalability and a slower pace of development. That’s where microservices come in, allowing for division into separate applications responsible for different business functions. Microservices, together with three other technologies, form a powerful architecture.
MACH architecture explained in 80 words
First, let us start with the basics and recap the definition. MACH is a set of four modern technology principles based on best-of-breed solutions. The acronym stands for
- Microservices: Applications that are independently developed, deployed, and managed, one service at a time, typically each performs a specific business function.
- API-first: In the old days, communication between code was an afterthought. The API-first trend reverses this, and the development begins with communication and creation of an API-first. This means that everything in the software has an API, and can communicate with everything else.
- Cloud-native: A service developed from the ground up in the cloud leverages the full power of cloud computing, including new services and possibilities in the cloud, storage, unlimited scalability, and automatic updates.
- Headless: The front-end layer is separated from the back-end, providing freedom in user interface design and the ability to extend omnichannel.
Now it’s time to get a bit into the composable methodology as well, as it is one of the emerging e-commerce trends of the moment.
So what the heck is composable commerce and what does it have to do with MACH architecture? Is getting started with MACH architecture worth it after all?
Composable commerce – another buzzword or technology that will eat the world?
Imagine a digital commerce platform built like Lego blocks, but made of technology. Customize your software and choose technology that best fits your business needs. Composable commerce is about combining best-of-breed components. These pieces of the puzzle can be integrated quickly and easily because they are based on modern technologies such as headless, microservices, and APIs.
Gartner’s CIO Agenda 2022 states that 60% of organizations with high interoperability recognize that iterative delivery processes, collaborative ways of working, and integrated systems lead to better results.
Composable commerce and headless commerce as a part of it focused on experimentation, agility, getting new e-commerce capabilities to market quickly, and creating a better customer experience at every sales touchpoint. Composable commerce gives companies the flexibility to experiment with new solutions and quickly respond to the changing demands of today’s markets.
The “new normal” is disruption. Organizations that lean into this reality and leverage their innovation capacity, technology and reach will not only survive, but grow as a result.Monika Sinha
VP Analyst at Gartner
The growing importance of MACH
MACH is a major player in this story because, as an architecture, it enables the implementation of modularity in the tech stack. Enterprises today are struggling to meet the growing demands of their customers and are looking for digital solutions that can help them achieve their business goals better and faster. This solution can be the MACH architecture.
At this point in time, you will not find any other architecture that is as flexible and scalable. So why not use the most modern solutions?Morten Næss
EVP Technology at Bluestone
According to the Enterprise MACHified Baseline Report from 2021 by JDS Research, the appetite for MACH among IT executives is significant, and C-level executives are the key drivers for the adoption of this technology in their organizations.
Currently, just over one-third of technical decision-makers surveyed from companies in North America, the United Kingdom, and Germany indicated that their front-office infrastructure is 26-50% MACH architecture. However, the majority of respondents expressed a firm intention (81%) to increase the MACH elements in their front office architecture within the next year and beyond.
5 main benefits of adding MACH architecture to the tech stack
The power of headless and APIs in practice means that the ease of implementing new solutions allows you to respond quickly to changing market conditions and design a better customer experience. Control over the entire architecture gives you the freedom to build your own technology stack and, as a business benefit, the ability to add new channels and launch new products, accelerating time to market.
Cloud-native SaaS software can scale automatically as traffic demands (think seasonal sales peaks like Black Friday). The MACH-based architecture also works with automatic upgrades, so all features are added seamlessly on your behalf.
Connect with customers at multiple touchpoints
With headless architecture, development teams can implement any front-end technology across any channel or device. This means you can quickly deploy new solutions and connect with customers at any touchpoint, benefiting your omnichannel strategy.
When you need to update your platform or test a new solution, microservices mean you do not have to redesign the entire system, just implement one solution at a time. This speeds up and improves the work of the development team when testing, updating, and publishing.
What does API-first mean? With the unlimited possibilities of connectivity through APIs, you gain the freedom to shape the technological environment of your software yourself. You are able to communicate with services that do not even exist yet. Add to that the unlimited growth thanks to the native cloud. This way you ensure that you create a future-proof service.
Is your organization ready for MACH?
MACH is not for everyone. It will not make you successful or help you deliver to your customers if you do not know how to use it in your strategy. If you are in the process of starting a business from scratch and have something global in mind, you should definitely consider the principles of MACH.Morten Næss
EVP Technology at Bluestone PIM in an interview for MACH Alliance
A monolithic all-in-one architecture with a single vendor suite has its limitations but is easier to manage from an executive perspective. Getting started with MACH architecture requires a certain level of digital maturity because it means more independence in building the architecture and choosing integrations and managed services. It requires a strong background within an
organization – to be prepared to work with multiple vendors and to invest in IT infrastructure and talents. It’s good to think through business requirements and technology considerations.
Do you want to invest in modern technologies?
Building a platform based on technologies such as SaaS, cloud-native and Digital Experience Platforms (DXP) can drive your business transition and be a good foundation for moving to MACH. Focus on strengthening your operations and enterprise architecture and consider this an investment in increasing the agility of your business.
Do you have talent with matching skills on board?
In terms of front-end interfaces, MACH-driven platforms work differently than other traditional, monolithic solutions, and they require specialized developer skills. One of the examples is working with APIs, which, as Friso Geerlings of Isaac points out, requires more technical skills and knowledge. Consider whether you have an IT team prepared for it, or whether you can invest in acquiring talent.
How to start with MACH architecture? Key tips
How to prepare to get started with MACH architecture and how to do it right? First – awareness and motivation. You need to prepare the entire organization by structuring teams and making sure IT works closely with the business. All departments need to understand what is going to happen and give the green light for implementation.
If you want to replace your current architecture with MACH, go platform by platform and system by system, adding one new touchpoint at a time. It’s much easier and more cost-effective to start small. In this and the next implementation phase, experiment with independent components. Put all the plans into one strategy to get started.
At this “crawling stage,” as Amplience’s Amy Thomas called it, you can starting with the cloud and microservices, and next implementing headless by separating the frontend and backend in non-critical elements of the platform. Without disrupting the user experience, you can experiment and implement MACH -driven components step by step.
MACH is all about the ability to compose. Start small, test, monitor your architecture, and choose the right partners who share the same technical philosophy to become part of an ecosystem with the best-of-breed solutions.
The MACH Alliance – certification and community
“Future proof enterprise technology and propel current and future digital experiences” – this is the manifesto of the MACH Alliance, a non-profit organization founded in 2020 by commercetools, Contentstack, EPAM Systems and Valtech.
The Mach Alliance is committed to open and industry-leading ecosystems for enterprise technologies. Through its prestigious certification program, the Alliance welcomes companies that share a similar vision and MACH principles. It is an opportunity for companies to expand their business network and share best practices to jointly shape the landscape of modern technology.
At Bluestone PIM, we started working with our software PIM as MACH-native before this best-of-breed approach was clearly defined. This was 2016 and we knew something was coming. Our goal was to build a future-proof solution that would remain modern and innovative for years to come.
We knew that we wanted to make a cloud native system and that the future of software development will happen there. We also decided on an API-first, Microservice approach because in the cloud this composable architecture makes sense, and is the most powerful way to make software. The headless architecture became a meaningful result of this powerful trio.
Bluestone PIM is a first PIM vendor to be certified by the MACH Alliance. See how the MACH architecture works in practice in the Product Information Management platform and the benefits it brings to e-commerce companies.