How to Future-proof Your Business with MACH Architecture
By Nazmul Islam
Disruption has been a common theme for most enterprises over the last few years. Changes in how people work, increased market competition, and the growth of new technologies have meant that these organizations have had to navigate through uncertainty to survive.
Recently, Gartner has been touting the importance of composability — “The mindset, technologies, and set of operating capabilities that enable organizations to innovate and adapt quickly to changing business needs.” In order to thrive and not just survive through that uncertainty, businesses must embrace composability and adaptability with the right technology.
MACH is a new technology architecture that supports composability and enables you to quickly acclimate and grow in any market condition while contributing to business success.
What Is MACH?
MACH, a new addition to enterprise software architecture, relies on these top-tier technical pillars to adapt rapidly to evolving customer expectations:
This combination offers better control and agility to your solution, resulting in future-proof implementations. User expectations often change but, with MACH, solutions are easily adapted through modifying or replacing the related parts. This is all done without affecting the rest of the setup.
To better understand how MACH works, let’s take a deeper look into the individual components.
These are business functionalities of an application that are designed, built, and deployed as independent services. This modularity brings fault tolerance because failure in one service won’t affect the whole application. Likewise, the microservices architecture gives the freedom of scaling, upgrading, or replacing these independent pieces without disrupting the rest of the services. This modularity also allows other applications to share the same services for common functional requirements, thus achieving reusability.
API enables the data flow among microservices. As the name suggests, the APIs of an application are planned, designed, and tested first in MACH. Other pieces are architected later on and based on the designs of the APIs. This allows applications the freedom to have frontends from any technology and ensures access to any future feature implementations.
This refers to building and running applications in a cloud environment. In this approach, it is common to put an application’s microservices into Containers in Cloud which dynamically orchestrates them for management purposes. Cloud-Native applications auto-scale responsiveness to traffic with increased uptime and performance thanks to the built-in redundancy features within underlying Cloud platforms.
The concept refers to a decoupled head (frontend) from the body (backend), with the two communicating through APIs. It allows teams the ability to connect with customers at any touchpoint by deploying multiple front-end experiences (heads) across any channel or device regardless of back-end architectures. As the frontend gets decoupled from the backend, the response to changing market conditions becomes easier.
MACH vs. Monolithic: What’s the Difference?
To better understand what MACH brings to the table, it’s essential to have a firm grasp of what monolithic architecture entails.
Monolithic or legacy architecture refers to the classic enterprise software suites that come as an all-in-one package. These suite systems can handcuff your business in a number of ways as the outdated technology is rigid and not easily changed. While an all-in-one suite sounds promising, it means that you’re not getting the best version of a particular software for your business.
For example, a legacy system built around a CMS might offer excellent support for content management but provide subpar performance with its accompanying analytics or DAM component. If you want to swap out one of the parts for another tool, you can’t because the tightly coupled suite can’t be altered. Moreover, integrating additional tools can be time-consuming and challenging for your developers.
Contrastingly, MACH allows enterprises to construct ever-evolving digital experiences with modular, pluggable, and scalable instruments. If one piece of the system isn’t sufficient, it can be simply swapped for another tool that better meets business requirements. This flexibility makes MACH perfect for future-proofing your business. When new technologies and software tools enter the market, you don’t need to go through a complete upheaval of your tech stack to accommodate them.
How MACH Architecture Benefits Your Business
One of the advantages of MACH is that it makes applications cost-optimal. As a buyer, setting up an application used to require a lot of upfront investments for infrastructure, license, maintenance, and security. As a result, software buying can drag into a long cycle of decision-making and procurement.
MACH principles relieve enterprises from much of these costs by fueling a subscription-based licensing model with the help of Cloud technologies. It allows you to focus on the business by overtaking the responsibility of maintenance of the infrastructure and security. It also ensures the availability of resources during peak traffic to preserve the user experience. In addition, enterprises only pay for the resources they use!
New digital channels and software tools are launched every year. Luckily, another advantage of MACH-based applications is that they are future-proof. You can replace any component anytime for better performance/cost-effectiveness without affecting the rest of the parts. This is possible due to the nature of the components of MACH-produced applications; they’re scalable, pluggable, replaceable, and improvable to meet ever-evolving business needs. Therefore, if the application is carefully architected, any necessary adjustments to the component level are simple to adapt, whether current or future requirement changes.
MACH doesn’t limit you to the tools offered by one vendor. Instead, you can choose best-in-class tools across any enterprise category, including content management, personalization, eCommerce, digital asset management, etc. MACH enables you to easily swap any of your chosen components for another tool as you see fit.
Faster Time to Market
MACH enables you to launch new experiences, product MVPs, and campaigns faster due to its agility. Enterprises can quickly roll out the latest innovative ideas and experiments without being handicapped by slow processes or glitchy tools.
How to be Successful with MACH: Requirements for a MACH-Ready Business
Adopting MACH means that you need the right technology structure, but you also need to have the right resources and business mindset within your team.
API-first is a key tenet of the MACH approach, meaning that any tools and applications you use should leverage APIs. It also means that technical knowledge like REST, JWT, JSON, OpenID connect, message queueing, GraphQL, Webhooks, AWS or Azure serverless, etc., may also be required depending on the complexity of your application.
Agility is the first thing that needs to be practiced in your company. It doesn’t necessarily mean the entire company needs to work in Agile, but the unit using MACH must be. Applications using MACH principles are highly flexible, and the Agile philosophy fits well with it. Also, the MACH-related experiences of product owners and their teams are equally important for a company’s success.
Dealing with two or three services is relatively easy. However, exponential landscape growth with the integration of numerous services might pose difficulties. An experienced team keeps these challenges in mind and plans for integration, access control, and other aspects accordingly that maintain the flow of profit from the early stages with few services.
Security & Quality Assurance
Your QA team should have an equal understanding of MACH and relevant testing frameworks for a better user experience. Security, in terms of Identity and Access Management (IAM) and Single Sign-On (SSO), would be the next priority item for working with MACH.
Applications with few services may have security implemented within the individual services. However, it is recommended to secure services with IAM platforms like AWS Cognito with the growth of the application. Similarly, a reasonable pricing model and a well-planned monitoring system for your services are also important to success with MACH.
Implementing MACH Architecture With Content Bloom
There is no doubt that MACH offers many business benefits. However, given that the technology used is quite advanced, technical issues in MACH can sometimes escalate into something more complex, particularly when the landscape is evolving into an ecosystem. Testing, monitoring, securing, and integrating with expertise are key when countering these challenges and getting the most out of this technology.
Content Bloom has extensive experience and knowledge working on each of the MACH components. Many of our partners are also MACH-ready vendors, including dotCMS, Sitecore, and Contentful.
If you’re curious and want to learn more, get in touch.
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