MACH - A Future Proof Architectural Pattern

API- First

Architectural patterns have continuously evolved with expanding digital needs of businesses and changing technology landscape. The current trend in this space is MACH - a revolutionary architecture principle that promises the ultimate scalability, flexibility and agility needed for business transformation

MACH stands for Microservices; API-first, Cloud-native; and Headless. In short, MACH is a term for technologies that are natively modular, pluggable, scalable, and easily updated via agile development to support a continuously-evolving digital experience.

Technically, MACH is a set of design principles behind a rising number of best-of-breed software solutions. Built to integrate easily, these technologies help untangle and step off legacy tools. With a modular design, MACH solutions give businesses the freedom to choose from the best tools on the market and provide an architecture that makes it easy to add, replace, or remove technologies in the future. This composable architecture means that enterprises are essentially facing their last major re-platforming effort and, instead, can continuously evolve their ecosystem piece by piece. Because in the digital experience race, as soon as you finish turning your bike into a race car it will be time to start evolving it into a rocket.

1. Microservices
Individual components of business functionality that are independently built, deployed, and managed.

2. API- First
The solution is built with web services/APIs from the ground up. All functionality is exposed through an API for external systems.

3. Cloud - Native
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 automatically, no manual effort required.

4. Headless
Front-end presentation is completely decoupled from back-end logic. Designed to be channel, programming language, and framework agnostic.

The Rise of MACH

There are three basic business drivers which has led to the evolution of MACH.

1. Digital Expansion
As businesses expand their digital portfolio by adding new channels and services, the need to get to market quickly without disrupting current business operations becomes critical. Unifiying siloed data to power the experiences on these channels is another demanding factor. For many businesses, these initiatives require a custom integration with a legacy platform. The power of MACH is unmatched in these expanding digital landscape for businesses because of the agility it brings to the table in the process of digital expansion.

2. No All-Inclusive Platform
When digital was a small part of business it made sense for many companies to have a core platform, like a commerce or content management platform, that did the majority of the heavy lifting. As digital business expands, the spectrum of functionality needed becomes wider than any single platform could master. Instead of trying to be a jack of all trades, modern software vendors are becoming masters of a specific area and are partnering with other leading tools to render the services. As such, the need for an all inclusive platform is disappearing.

3. Continuous Evolution
Companies are prioritizing their approach to digital in stages. They need to be able to enable new technology and tools now, while transitioning their stack over time. Modern software needs to integrate not only with other new technologies, but also with legacy tools to make the wider digital transformation as smooth as possible. MACH technologies are designed to play nice with others by creating a framework of future flexibility that lets companies evolve at their own pace. Going MACH doesn’t mean that a company has to completely re- engineer their architecture all at once, and most enterprises step off legacy bit by bit.

Why enterprise companies are adopting MACH?

1. Modular Design:
Designed to easily integrate, MACH tools are easy to add in and rip off your technology stack

Benefits

  • Select best fit solutions for specific business functionality, instead of one large platform that works “ok” for multiple business functions
  • Evolve stack over time, without large re-platforming effort

2. Freedom to Innovate:
Natively built with modern development tools and frameworks, MACH solutions are highly flexible and adaptable to unique needs

Benefits

  • Work with the architecture, language, and framework you prefer
  • Leverage out of the box features of platforms without being limited to them
  • Design unique customer experiences

3. Modern Architecture:
MACH technologies fully leverage the latest advancements in cloud and API design

Benefits

  • Create highly performant, fast, and available experiences at scale
  • Access cloud capabilities such as auto-scaling and geo-redundancy
  • Continuous rolling upgrades of SaaS solutions, no manual effort required

4. Channel Agnostic:
Decoupling back-end logic from front-end presentation allows MACH solutions to power any touchpoint

Benefits

  • Data, content, and logic can be shared across channels for a consistent experience
  • Faster time to market for new customer touch-points
  • Consumer applications do not change when functionality vendors are replaced

Getting Started With MACH

With clear benefits of MACH, adoption of MACH will skyrocket sooner than later. Having said that, the next question that arises is how businesses can get started with MACH? Below are some key steps businesses need to include in their MACH implementation strategy.

  1. Define Business & Operational Drivers
    Defining the rational behind adopting a MACH architecture is the first and foremost step that businesses need to take. And the rational has to translate into realistic business and operational drivers. Typically, there are 3 common drivers,
  • Need for high performance
  • Need for high quality
  • Need for streamlined processes

The best way to identify your primary business driver is to look at your current technology architecture and see what drawbacks or loopholes exist that is snagging the delivery of high performance, quality and process in turn impacting the overall organisational objectives. On the other hand, it could just be an organisational initiative to future proof core technology ecosystem to accommodate disruptive technologies in future.

2. Decide - Going the MACH way or not.
The decision to revamp your tech stack with a MACH strategy is a critical decision organizations should make and this should solely be based on the goals you are trying to achieve. Remember that your tech architecture and goals should be in tandem in order to maximise the impact of your investment. Rather than just following the crowd, take the time to reflect on your goals and what you’re trying to achieve and decide. A clear picture of the future state architecture and a realistic execution plan should help in facilitating the decision making process.

3. Organizational Buy-in
A disruptive technical initiative requires the commitment and engagement from all the stakeholders and their teams. Organizational buy-in can be achieved through cross team collaboration demonstrating the key benefits of MACH architecture aligned with business goals and how it will impact their day to day work processes. At the same time, teams should also be advised about the need to upgrade their technical skill sets to liaise with the modern tech stack and enable the skill set upgradation process. This brings confidence among team members creating an atmosphere of positive change.

4. Start Small (POCs, Prototypes)
Instead of going big bang with multiple legacy system rip offs and new system integration, take baby steps by starting with small iterative changes in architecture. Taking small steps at a time gives enough insights into the impacts for better decision making going forward.

Key Takeaway
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 pattern for any business that is looking to future-proof their business.

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