As customers become increasingly tech-savvy, businesses often struggle to keep pace with their demands.
Legacy solutions and software suites are no longer practical for companies that need to evolve their digital services and experiences to keep up with customer expectations.
To remain agile, flexible, customer-centric, and future-proof, many organizations are turning to something called MACH architecture.
A 2022 report by M·E·L Research shows that about 75% of decision-makers who took part in the research intend to increase MACH elements in their architecture in the future.
This article explains the key features of MACH architecture and gives an example of how it can benefit your business.
#What is a MACH architecture?
A MACH architecture is a modern composable software strategy based on smaller solutions that seamlessly integrate with one another. It is a base for a modern composable enterprise in which every digital component is pluggable, scalable, replaceable, and can be continuously improved.
The term stands for Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless.
Let’s now delve deeper into the MACH principles.
- Microservice-based — With a microservices architecture teams can build a software product as a set of independent components — microservices — where each component operates on its own and interacts with others through APIs. As a result, teams can deploy, change, and improve separate software components without disrupting the rest of the system.
Microservices can be deployed to run different aspects of the business, such as inventory, catalog, storefront, reviews, etc.
In this configuration, teams can more easily isolate a fault by testing individual microservices, compared to testing in a monolith application.
- API-first — APIs enable different software components to easily interact with other services and products, which greatly simplifies software development.
API-first architectures are more flexible because teams can choose the most appropriate frontend technology to solve a particular business problem. Developers can unify logic across touchpoints and avoid duplication of development work, as well as eliminate channel silos.
Finally, since APIs allow for fast communication between components, businesses can reduce the time to implement new touchpoints and accelerate speed-to-market processes.
- Cloud-native — These businesses can use the public, private, and hybrid cloud as part of the cloud migration strategy to develop scalable data solutions in dynamic environments. As a result, these enterprises are more resilient to performance issues that often bug on-premise systems.
A service deployed in the public cloud can be easily scaled to support peak demands as well as the ability to freely grow and innovate.
- Headless — Companies that employ headless architecture don’t have a default frontend system that defines how content is presented to end users. Instead, they use APIs, that are connected to multiple external delivery functionalities.
This way, businesses can use APIs to deliver their content to their target audience using any channels, devices, and platforms.
In this way, teams can achieve not only a better customer experience for all customers, but also an experience tailored to specific customer groups.
How MACH architecture works
MACH architecture works by breaking a monolithic block of components into smaller, interconnected pieces that can work more effectively in isolation.
For example, in a traditional e-commerce platform, all storefront features function under a single instance with a single database.
Microservices are self-contained and have their own database. This means there’s a different app for customer support, product management, and a shopping cart.
Each of these microservices captures data in its own database.
Microservices use service discovery to find the proper route of communication between each component and communicate with each other using an API. Once they have communicated, they deploy static content to a cloud-based service that delivers the content to clients via content delivery networks.
In a headless commerce setup, the API pulls information to any device, including apps, smart appliances, wearable tech, and social networks. When a customer makes a purchase, the API handles communication between payment, inventory processing, inventory management, and CRM. This arrangement ensures all data is up to date.
MACH architecture allows businesses to freely choose from the best tools on the market while maintaining a structure that makes it easy to add, replace, or remove any of those tools in the future.
#Monolithic architecture vs. MACH architecture
At one point, e-commerce companies realized that their monolith software systems couldn’t keep up with the expectations of increasingly “digitized” customers.
The moment e-commerce started to evolve at a breakneck pace, enterprise software suites stopped being the safest choice.
Let’s take a look at how MACH architecture differs from monolithic software.
Tight vs. loose dependencies
In monolithic models, single-tier solution components often share the same platform and form a consolidated software system. Even if the system consists of multiple modules and components, they all share one database that operates simultaneously with all platforms and marketing channels.
When each element is closely related and dependent on others, developers of monolithic solutions can’t easily migrate their products into a new language, structure, or technology.
MACH architecture, on the other hand, allows developers to divide modules and services into smaller and independent components, each of which has its individual database. These components use APIs to communicate with each other and deliver content to customers via different channels.
Centralized databases vs. API networks
Unlike monolithic systems, where multiple departments share a single database, each microservice has its own database. This makes the job much easier for developers if they need to quickly reconfigure microservices to make them perform different business functions or link them to a different operating process via APIs.
In practical terms, APIs may connect eCommerce CRM, inventory management, and invoicing protocols so that all components have relevant data when a customer makes a purchase.
#Benefits of MACH architecture
Best-of-breed service choice
MACH architecture allows enterprises to take advantage of the best digital services available. In the past, teams had to settle for less-than-the-best add-ons that came with software suites. Due to its composable nature, MACH can help organizations preserve existing functionality they are happy with while introducing new services of choice.
With a monolithic solution, any changes made to a particular component will likely disrupt the integrity of the entire system. This has often been a cause of bugs and security flaws. In a MACH architecture, on the other hand, this is not a serious problem because developers only work with microservices, and any technical issue that occurs is localized within its component.
This is the reason why MACH-powered systems are less vulnerable to human factors and safety risks, as well as provide more room for experiments. Brands can test new features and services and observe how they work in practice without compromising the stability and security of the entire system.
Speed to market/MVP
The agility of MACH architecture gives businesses a significantly faster route to MVP (minimum viable product) and from development to market. Digital agencies, system integrators, and enterprise development teams are able to roll out prototypes that help prove key concepts before investing in large-scale implementations. Using MACH architecture, teams can also circumvent tedious request-for-proposal processes and save everyone time and money.
Adaptability for innovation
Thanks to its flexibility and modularity, MACH architecture allows organizations to continuously implement the best-of-breed technology that is available on the software market. For example, enterprises can easily enrich their technology stacks with AI and machine learning solutions in order to stay competitive.
A recent Gartner survey that included more than 2,000 CIOs found that IT budgets are expected to grow globally at the fastest rate in over ten years. What's more, high-composability enterprises expect more significant increases in revenue and IT budget next year compared to their moderate-or-low-composability competitors.
This proves that businesses which have invested in a future-proof backbone are more capable of adapting to a challenging and evolving business climate, which translates into revenue growth.
#MACH architecture example
A global leader in the Food and Beverage industry, the Oetker Group, was looking to increase their digital platform offerings to the end customers and modernize their digital operations. The project required upgrading the websites, web apps, and portals for all brands under the Dr. Oetker portfolio.
Ultimately, the project involved breaking down legacy monolithic tech stacks and switching to a microservice-first, performance-focused stack.
After multiple rounds of trials and evaluation, Dr. Oetker has chosen Hygraph as its new content platform, with its API connecting to other MACH certified microservices like Algolia, using Next.js as the state of the art front-end framework.
With this MACH architecture, the Dr. Oetker team managed to:
Streamline logical technical solutions — Dr. Oetker has a presence in more than 40 countries where the local marketing units have used the company tech stack in different ways. As a result, development processes were decentralized, which caused slower update cycles.
Unify data silos — As a result of fragmented technical infrastructure, Dr. Oetker’s data was stored in silos, so their marketing teams were unable to leverage the power of data at a full scale.
Improve end-user experience — Traditionally a wholesale vendor, Dr. Oetker wanted to create meaningful touchpoints that would convert offline customers to online customers by leveraging first-party data to get better insights.
#Hygraph: the certified MACH solution
Hygraph is a certified MACH vendor that helps businesses switch from inflexible monolithic suits to modular, best-of-breed microservices using Content Federation.
As an API-first Headless CMS, Hygraph aims to accelerate the enterprise adoption of MACH-compliant software architectures as the “glue” that federates them together into a single GraphQl API.
Digitally-driven enterprises that want to match their customer expectations should strongly consider liberating their data from legacy and third-party systems using MACH architecture solutions. By adopting MACH-compliant systems, organizations are buying a ticket to a future-proof digital business environment that allows them to easily scale up and modernize their stack without compromising their operations and end customer experience.