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What is MACH Architecture?

September 11, 2020

Category: Headless eCommerce

MACH Architecture Definition

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Today, customers are becoming digitally advanced at lightning speed. Companies now realize that becoming fluent in “digital” is vital to their future success. Old technologies are no longer viable for companies that need continuous evolution to keep up with customer expectations. 

Enterprise software suites are no longer the safest choice, as businesses look to find more and better ways to remain agile, nimble, customer-centric, and future-proof. Digital transformation is essential for future success and many businesses are turning to MACH architecture to accomplish it. 

What is MACH Architecture?

Coined by commercetools in 2019, MACH architecture is a set of technology principles behind new, best-of-breed technology platforms. The acronym stands for Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless:

  • Microservices: Individual pieces of business functionality that are independently developed, deployed and managed.
  • API-first: All functionality is exposed through an API, making it possible to tie together two or more applications or services.
  • Cloud-Native SaaS: Software-as-a-Service that leverages the full capabilities of the cloud, beyond storage and hosting, including elastic scaling of highly available resources. Functionality is updated manually, eliminating the need for upgrade management.
  • Headless: The front-end user experience is completely decoupled from the back-end logic, allowing for complete design freedom in creating the user interface and for connecting to other channels and devices (i.e. existing applications, IoT, A/R, Vending Machines, sensors, etc.).

While it’s a relatively new term in the industry, MACH is quickly gaining popularity for how it helps businesses. MACH technologies support a composable enterprise meaning every component is pluggable, scalable, replaceable, and can be continuously improved. MACH architecture gives businesses the freedom to choose from the best tools on the market, and maintain a structure that makes it easy to add, replace, or remove those tools in the future.

What are the benefits of MACH Architecture?

Moving from monolithic or suite-based technology to MACH architecture gives you the freedom to choose from the best tools on the market today, and provides a structure that makes it easy to add, replace, or remove technologies in the future. Put simply, MACH architecture allows you to break the replatform cycle once and for all.

In addition to avoiding another instance of being handcuffed by outdated technology and the inability to innovate and evolve, here are four more benefits of MACH architecture as explained in our previous post:

  • Improved Speed with Less Risk – With this agile architecture, you get a dramatically faster route to MVP (minimum viable product), and therefore to launch. For digital agencies, SIs, and even enterprise development teams, you’ll be able to rapidly roll-out prototypes that help prove key concepts before investing in large-scale implementations. Rapid prototyping can also help circumvent tedious RFP processes saving everyone time and money.
  • Execute a Best-of-Breed Strategy – MACH architecture allows you to take advantage of the best technology available. You no longer need to settle for less-than-the-best add-ons that come with software suites. Because of its composable nature, MACH can also help preserve existing functionality that you’ve invested in and are happy with.  
  • Say “Goodbye!” to Upgrades – Never worry about disruptive upgrades that seem like replatforming projects in themselves, ever again. With MACH architecture, all releases are automatic and non-breaking. There’s a clear, inherent boundary between our code and yours which makes this possible.
  • Seamless Customizations and Innovation – Now more than ever, it’s important to be able to make changes rapidly as your customers’ needs change. Prioritizing innovation means prioritizing iteration. The ability to constantly change and innovate on the customer experience is a key pillar to MACH architecture. Whether you need to add curbside pick-up capabilities over the weekend or launch a rebranded ordering experience for a high-profile, enterprise customer, MACH makes that possible.

How to Evaluate MACH Architecture?

As the term “MACH architecture” gathers steam in the marketplace, it can be difficult to determine which tools are truly modern. Plus, adopting MACH architecture can be as simple as replacing the front-end of your existing commerce or content management stack with a headless framework or as complex as adopting MACH architecture fully as a new enterprise technology strategy. 

Either way, understanding what to look for is important in making sure this decision helps break your replatforming cycle.

Here are 11 factors to consider when evaluating potential MACH architecture:

Microservices:

1.Does it feature true microservices? You can develop, update, and scale specific, independent platform services with minimal impact and risk to your overall implementation.

2. Can you execute phased roll-outs? Light prototypes and MVPs which offer an iterative approach to implementation are becoming commonplace. You must be able to gradually add and replace services overtime.

3. Does it support a best-of-breed approach? Add or replace systems and services independently. Choose technologies – both existing tech investments and emerging requirements – as needs change.

API-First:

4. Is it built with APIs from the ground up or has it adopted an API bolt-On strategy? By definition, API-first systems are completely open. Technologies built with APIs from the ground up, provide complete control of the entire platform. 

5. Can you access quality documentation? Comprehensive, searchable, self-help knowledge repository offering quality technical documentation demonstrating platform capabilities and resources to aid in solution development are the cornerstone of API-first platforms like OrderCloud.

6. How are integrations completed? APIs and webhooks help facilitate interaction with other systems. Often connectors, or pre-built integrations, are available for numerous common technologies. 

Cloud-Native:

7. Does it offer limitless scalability? Cloud infrastructure provides wide-scale scaling capabilities to meet growing levels of demand over time.

8. Is the Software Delivered as-a-service (SaaS)? No on-premise option is available. The vendor provides a Service Level Agreement (SLA).

9. Do updates and upgrades happen via continuous delivery without breaking changes? Platform-wide updates are applied automatically without customer effort, downtime, licensing costs, or other fees. Functionality and infrastructure improvements appear continuously over time.

Headless:

10. Can you “see” the administrative or buyer interface without development time? True headless platforms come without any existing front-end interface. You may find pre-built components, interfaces, or templates you can take advantage of in order to get to your desired UI faster.

11. Can you develop and deploy the user experience freely and flexibly: Because headless technology does not dictate a front-end user experience, the development of the UI, as well as deployment, are completely up to the developer. Solutions can utilize any technology stack, programming language, and front-end framework.

Technologies built with MACH architecture provide the building blocks necessary to not only digitally transform a business, but continuously evolve into the future. MACH architecture is the right technology for any business that is looking to future-proof their business. 

Interested in learning more about the benefits of MACH architecture for your business? Be sure and follow the MACH Alliance, a new organization dedicated to education and thought leadership on MACH architecture capabilities and strategy. And reach out to our team to learn more about how OrderCloud, a MACH certified technology, can digitally transform your commerce. 

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