MACH architecture: components, benefits, and implementation tips
May 13, 2023
by Roman Davydov, Ecommerce Technology Observer
MACH is an innovative ecommerce architecture combining four major software development concepts - microservices, API-first, cloud-native, and headless, which the acronym MACH stands for. A flexible MACH-based infrastructure ensures the creation of highly scalable and future-proof ecommerce solutions.
By implementing MACH principles, especially if guided by the providers of ecommerce consulting services, an enterprise can advance its ecommerce ecosystem and increase its business competitiveness.
Each component of the MACH architecture and their combinations help developers modify software quicker and easier. Applied in ecommerce, it allows retailers to grow their software vertically and horizontally and quickly evolve its elements.
The MACH principles were formulated by commercetools in 2018, which makes it a fairly new concept. Therefore, enterprises adopting the MACH architecture today can tap into its benefits faster than competitors, get a unique business advantage, and keep up with leaders in the ecommerce field.
Our experts can cover the full range of software development services to implement MACH technology and architecture. We rely on the best practices provided by our Ecommerce Center of Excellence to build powerful and easy-to-use solutions.
MACH in figures and stats
of decision-makers believe MACH helps improve customer experience
The MACH Alliance
of decision-makers say MACH can help respond to changes in the market faster
The MACH Alliance
of business leaders plan to adopt MACH technology in their front-office architecture
The MACH Alliance
The main MACH components
Here are the four main MACH technologies explained.
Using the MACH software development concept, engineers build digital solutions consisting of interrelated components, or microservices. Each microservice works independently, so developers can change and improve separate software elements with minimal disruption to the entire system.
In MACH-based software, individual components interact through business-function-driven APIs. By taking an API-first approach, developers can easily add new features and technologies and quickly connect new digital channels, streamlining marketing and sales processes.
Adopting MACH, retailers can fully benefit from a cloud infrastructure. Cloud hosting makes ecommerce solutions scalable and allows companies to request resource usage in line with changing business needs.
In MACH-based solutions, the front-end and back-end layers are separated, which allows online retailers to be particularly flexible. For instance, with headless commerce design, a company can adopt any custom front-end tool for content delivery and connect it to a back-end system via an API.
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Monolithic architecture vs MACH
Choosing between traditional monolithic architecture and MACH, companies should consider the following critical differences.
In a monolithic architecture, all elements are closely connected and interrelated. Tight coupling is one of the main reasons why developers of monolithic solutions can’t easily enhance it with new technology or migrate it to other hosting platforms.
In contrast, the MACH architecture enables developers to divide modules and services into smaller independent microservices. These components utilize API to communicate with each other and deliver content to customers.
The monolithic software development model implies a single-tier solution where the components share the same database and form a single software system.
Each microservice has its own database, which helps developers quickly reconfigure microservices to perform different business functions or integrate them into the brand's processes via API.
Traditionally, businesses rely on large-scale components with most of their data stored in expensive enterprise solutions. Due to additional expenses and upfront planning, the cost of extending and maintaining the whole environment in the long term becomes high.
Smaller distributed components
With MACH architecture, most corporate and client data fit perfectly into various cloud-based services that are scalable and cost-efficient. Cloud hosting is even more beneficial due to its ability to automate tasks such as deployment and configuration management.
MACH architecture examples
Here are several retail enterprises that have already started to leverage the advantages of the MACH architecture.
Puma, a multinational retail brand, has implemented micro-services into its tech stack, gaining an ability to expand the functionality of its apps faster. The retailer can now cover customer needs more rapidly by deploying new custom interfaces and APIs as the need arises. In addition, Puma used specific elements of the MACH architecture, such as microservices, to revamp its data management software. After conducting loading tests, the retailer noted that the modernized microservices-based system can support 300% - 400% more users compared to the legacy software solution.
Benefits of the MACH architecture
Properly adopted and used, MACH can help ecommerce enterprises reap significant business benefits.
Enhanced customer experience
The increased flexibility and composability resulting from MACH adoption allows enterprises to continuously innovate and improve digital experience. For example, marketing specialists can utilize multiple marketing channels across the web and mobile apps, tailor content to different audiences, and easily track key performance metrics, improving conversions and sales.
Mitigated IT risks
Updating or modifying MACH-based solutions through development won’t disrupt the whole ecommerce system, introduce errors and bugs, or create potential security vulnerabilities. Also, any potential problem would be localized within a single component and won’t interfere with the system’s work.
Using MACH capabilities, developers can build and deploy different software elements in parallel, which can significantly speed up the release of an ecommerce solution. Additionally, faster time-to-market allows ecommerce enterprises to reduce costs associated with traditional software development and management.
Due to the modularity and interchangeability that underlies the MACH concept, retailers can quickly add new tools and technologies, like AI, ML, or IoT, to their ecommerce technology stack. For example, a company can equip its online store with an artificial intelligence engine and gain a competitive advantage.
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Moving to MACH: implementation best practices
Here are some implementation tips to ease the transition to MACH and increase your project's ROI.
Assess the technological environment
Decision-makers should determine the MACH architecture’s suitability for the company’s unique business case and whether they have enough resources to develop such a non-traditional solution. As an option, enterprise executives can conduct a series of meetings with technology, marketing, and customer service professionals to get a shared understanding of the business case. Here are a few questions you should consider:
- Is our team agile enough?
MACH is a flexible software architecture allowing frequent updates and revisions, so it works best with the Agile methodology. Incidentally, opting for MACH can be yet another reason for agile transformation. Organizing development as a flexible ongoing process, an enterprise can start seeing results from the very beginning of its project.
- Do we have relevant programming skills?
Engineers of the MACH architecture should have both strong backend and frontend skills and be able to build modern and efficient applications. The team should also have a good understanding of how the solution will exchange data between client and server and design it accordingly. Also, implementing a microservices architecture often involves moving monolithic on-premise systems to the cloud, which requires thorough preparation, specific skills, and expertise.
- How should we monitor our MACH infrastructure?
To ensure that digital systems work correctly, customers are satisfied, and there are no security issues, enterprises should constantly monitor their environments from technical and business perspectives. An IT team should decide in advance which analytical tools to use to get a complete picture of the enterprise technology ecosystem.
Turning your brand into a commerce MACHine
Today's consumers use many different channels to shop and expect a personal experience across all of them. Technical advancements in ecommerce, like MACH architecture, allow retailers to meet these customer expectations. The accessibility of cloud-native SaaS solutions for ecommerce and the emergence of the headless architecture allows enterprises to orchestrate their marketing, sales, and customer service activities and deliver their messages to audiences across multiple platforms and touchpoints. Software development based on the best-of-breed approach such as MACH can propel the brand toward digital transformation. Itransition experts are ready to help retailers leverage the benefits of MACH architecture and increase their chances of gaining customer loyalty, as well as standing out among their competitors.
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