What is MACH Architecture?

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As enterprises look for ways to deliver better customer experiences, the technologies and underlying approaches to building applications continue to advance. Approximately 84% of consumers no longer engage with brands because of a bad experience, according to a 2020 report by Conversocial. Companies must remain agile in the face of sudden market changes due to the multiple channels and digital touchpoints available to consumers today.

In the last decade, organizations have moved away from monolithic CMS to adopting composable architecture. That has meant a move towards cloud-native, multi-experience applications with enhanced modularity. According to Gartner, a crucial strategy in enabling multi-experience is to strive for a “composable approach using packaged business capabilities” to deliver successful digital experiences.

MACH enables application developers to build large-scale applications through modularity, reuse, and service-oriented design. With MACH architecture, you can simplify the process of bringing new functionality into existing products. With pre-built components, it is easier to create applications using reusable and standardized components to speed up development.

In this article, you’ll learn about MACH and how to leverage it for your business.

What Is The MACH Architecture?

MACH architecture is a set of modern approaches and principles for building best-of-breed platforms and software stacks. In its long-form, it means Microservices, API-first, Cloud Native, and Headless.

With MACH, enterprises have an opportunity to develop more agile and flexible applications by breaking down monolithic structures and legacy systems to implement a modular architecture. Because of its modular approach and compatible architecture, companies can better adapt and tailor their technology environment to consumer needs.

The move towards MACH demonstrates the limitations of monolithic systems incapable of meeting the demands of an increasingly agile and dynamic digital world. This is where the MACH Alliance comes in. MACH is an independent consortium of forward-thinking tech companies, advocating for a technology ecosystem that is open, transparent, and, best-of-breed to shape and future-proof digital experiences.

Although several platforms demonstrate one or more of these qualities, MACH Alliance members must meet all of these criteria (among others). Before deciding on any technology vendor, product, or architecture for your business, be sure it adheres to the MACH approach to enjoy its full benefits. In the meantime, you should learn more about the core features of MACH and why it’s crucial.

Microservices-based

Traditionally, everything in software is built together as one monolithic chunk. Microservices are standalone applications or services that are managed, developed, and deployed as independent modular components. As a result, multiple applications can interact to share resources and provide the form for a single architecture. These applications can cater to specific functions such as product search, reviews, wish lists, and checkouts.

With microservices, a failure or an error in one function will not bring down the entire application. Because of this, you’ll not only have a reliable application but also have more control and flexibility to enhance, scale, or update the individual parts. The modular approach allows you to multitask on different functions simultaneously, so your team can market your product faster.

Pros

  • Composability: Microservices are independent, meaning you can replace and integrate new applications into your overall architecture, such as an internal tool or a third-party application. As a result, you can scale without limit and tap into the best-of-the-best functionalities to deliver better experiences for your customers.
  • Scalability: You can scale up or scale down microservices independently based on traffic or demand of those particular services.
  • Reduced operating cost: You can efficiently optimize your infrastructure and scale each service independently depending on your needs for them. That means, in contrast to monolithic architecture, you won’t have to deal with compulsory upgrade costs for services you don’t need.
  • Seamless upgrades and release cycle:Using a microservice, you can rapidly develop new features, provide updates to each functionality, and fix bugs without impacting other parts of the system.
  • High availability: Because microservices utilize a decoupled architecture, faults can be isolated to specific components, providing you with high availability and uninterrupted service. In the event of a microservice being unavailable, the rest should continue to function.

Cons

  • Complexity: As with any architecture, complexity is an inherent issue. You’ll need a technical team capable of maintaining and implementing a microservice-based architecture.
  • Unavailability: A decoupled or loosely coupled architecture can lead to a cascade of failures if one service fails, and other microservices may also suffer.
  • Delay in revenue: Due to the massive amount of effort needed to implement and maintain these microservices, you may incur high operational overhead at the start, resulting in a prolonged time to revenue for you.

API-first

Traditional monolithic systems deliver all capabilities out-of-the-box with APIs often viewed as an afterthought rather than the first point of access for any service or feature. APIs allow organizations to interact and access other services and products, significantly reducing the efforts and time required for development. An API-first approach exposes all of an application’s functionality via an API, enabling interactions between two or more applications or services.

APIs open up the possibility of building or adding different functionalities and systems as microservices on any technology through understandable programming languages. With an API first approach, businesses can stack platforms and then customize them to meet their specific goals, facilitating a more coherent ecosystem.

Pros

  • Frontend agnostic: With an API-first approach, you can choose any front-end framework or technology you want while still accessing all the features you need.
  • Faster speed to market: The flexibility you have from selecting your best front-end framework will reduce or eliminate the learning curve and maximize your ability to deliver your products to market as fast as possible.
  • Simplified development experience: You can effectively eliminate silos between channels by unifying logic across touchpoints and abstracting much of the logic that occurs behind the API layer.

Cons

While APIs do not generally have any drawbacks, you should realize that not all APIs are the same. When evaluating APIs, you should take into account each API’s design, coverage, and maturity.

Cloud-native SaaS

Cloud-native refers to the approach of leveraging a SaaS model to host, build, store, elastically scale, and run applications in the cloud. That excludes software not based on the cloud but later migrated there. The SaaS model offers several essential benefits for businesses.

Cloud-native architecture relies on microservices, typically orchestrated through containers to dynamically manage and schedule each service component to maximize and optimize resources. You can scale up your cloud-native application within a short period and maintain low infrastructural costs by only paying for the services and bandwidth you use on the cloud platform.

Pros

  • Available on-demand: You can take advantage of several SaaS solutions available out-of-the-box, resulting in greater agility.
  • Reliability: With cloud-native applications, you can improve performance, maximize uptime, and reduce latency with solutions deployed to multiple data centers and availability zones.
  • Enhanced Scalability: The cloud can accommodate the growth of your business without your having to worry about scalability issues.
  • Auto-upgrades: A cloud-native application (vendor) saves you time and effort by managing and administering upgrades automatically in the background. SaaS provider manages and administers all updates/upgrades seamlessly behind the scenes. You’ll worry less about patch and upgrade deployments.

Cons

  • Limited release options: It can sometimes be a disadvantage if you’re looking for other alternatives outside of the cloud. Cloud-native vendors usually don’t offer private clouds or on-premise deployments. You can often address this in part by ensuring flexible features, simple integrations, and well-documented products.
  • Lack of control: In some ways, you are not in control of security, and it will need to be handled separately and individually by each SaaS vendor. Similarly, it may be challenging to identify and discern where errors lie. To prevent this, you should take better care to choose the most secure SaaS solutions.

Headless

As the world plays host to a diverse set of frontend technology and channels such as chatbots, voice, wearables, IoT devices, together with mobile and web, separating the backend to serve multiple frontend channels becomes imperative.

Headless refers to the practice of separating the frontend from the backend. Put simply; it means companies can decouple the frontend from the backend technologies and connect both through the use of APIs. The headless approach provides organizations with the agility to respond to changes and innovate much faster.

Pros

  • Frontend agnostic: With headless, you can deliver across multiple frontend experiences, enabling you to reach customers at every touchpoint.
  • Flexibility: A headless approach provides you with the flexibility to select suitable frontend frameworks that match the skillset and needs of your business, reducing the operating cost of learning a new framework in the process.
  • Fast loading times: With the flexibility to leverage modern frameworks and technologies, you can deliver faster load times, resulting in improved SEO, higher organic reach, and better conversions.
  • Enhanced business model and innovation: With headless, companies can deliver new business models to drive revenue and growth. It enables companies to introduce new sales channels such as social commerce, IoT, and in-store delivery.

Cons

  • Delay in time to market and increased costs: One disadvantage with the headless approach is that you’ll need to already have a frontend in place, build one from scratch, or integrate with a third-party frontend solution. That can result in a long time to market and higher operating costs in delivering the frontend technology.

Read more: What is a Headless CMS?

MACH Architecture vs. Monolithic Architecture

In contrast to monolithic architectures, MACH architecture offers you a flexible and scalable solution to customize experiences, add new functionalities, and adapt to customer needs without any disruption to your business.

If your architecture is monolithic, you’ll have to rely on your vendor for security, upgrades, and maintenance. That means you won’t be able to scale or meet customer demands as you wish; you’ll also incur higher costs from services you hardly need.

Monolithic vs. MACH architecture diagram

How Does a MACH Project Look In Action? / How Can You Apply MACH To A Sitecore Project?

In action, MACH architecture works by breaking down large blocks of components into smaller, connected pieces that can effectively work in isolation. For instance, online shoppers need a comprehensive interface that includes numerous features.

Traditional and monolithic platforms combine all storefront features in one instance with a single database. By leveraging microservices, you can connect to services for customer support, shopping cart, product management, among others.

One platform that follows the MACH alliance is Sitecore. Sitecore is a digital experience platform for delivering innovative, personalized digital experiences. With Sitecore, content editors and marketers can have full control of their website content, from blog posts and social integration to advanced personalization, customer data tracking, and e-commerce.

Hamilton, a robotic liquid handling company for researchers and labs, required a much more engaging online experience by combining separate regional and divisional sites as a single restyled platform. Thanks to Oshyn’s implementation of Sitecore, Hamilton can now personalize product experiences for users based on their geographical location, offer multilingual content, and integrate flexible search into a user-friendly interface.

With the help of advanced search functions in Solr and the integration of Optimizely B2B Commerce, Hamilton has increased online orders and revenues. Hamilton visitors now benefit from a single platform to access personalized content, allowing them to have a more relevant and informative experience.

Learn more on: How Sitecore Experience Commerce Drive Ecommerce Growth

Implement MACH Architecture With Oshyn

With Oshyn, you have access to an extensive Sitecore experience that you can leverage to maximize the benefits of Sitecore implementations. Through Oshyn’s DevOps for Sitecore and Uptime solution, you can take advantage of MACH architecture to create refined processes, personalized experiences and ensure you can optimize and scale your software effectively.

Read More about Oshyn’s implementation services here: Oshyn Services