What is MACH Architecture?

Anatolii

June 23rd, 2020

If you have heard about MACH architecture, maybe you are curious about what it is and why you should care about it. This blog post provides an answer to all those questions as well as discusses the benefits of this approach.

MACH stands for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless. And of course, a particular solution can adhere to only some of the principles of a MACH architecture. We will talk about each of the aspects and their value separately.

Microservices

Solution aligned with MACH architecture is built as independent components that communicate via a well-defined interface using lightweight APIs. Services are made for business capabilities, and each service performs a single function. The microservices-based solution provides the following benefits.

Pros

  • Operational Costs. If the service architecture is adequately designed, all the microservices can be scaled independently. This allows optimizing infrastructure costs of the commerce service.

  • Composability.  With each microservice being independent, it is possible to replace any of them with a home-grown or a 3rd party service. Customers can leverage this to create a best-of-breed solution picking the best-in-class functionality instead of being limited to what is available in the best-of-suite approach.

  • High Availability. Fault isolation is another benefit of a microservices architecture. If one of the microservices is down, the other microservices should still be able to operate.

  • Seamless Upgrades. Since each microservices can be changed independently, there is no technical need to package new features, patches, updates, and upgrades into more significant releases for rollout.

Cons

The main challenges associated with the microservices are related to inherent architectural complexity. If the software application consists of a large number of independent microservices (each having its own APIs) this can result in the excessive effort required to stitch them together. This has to be done either by the customer or by the partner, in both cases this will result in prolonged time-to-revenue. To prevent this, an application needs to have well-defined packaged business capabilities that can be exposed to the customer.

API-first

Having a commerce service with the right API design is extremely important since it will allow your developers to enjoy the following benefits:

  • Improved Flexibility. Select the most appropriate front-end technology or framework to solve a particular business problem.
  • Simplified development. Unify logic across touchpoints to eliminate channel siloes and duplication of development work.
  • Accelerated Speed-to-market. Reduce the time required to learn the APIs, implement new touchpoints, and extend the APIs capabilities.

Cons

Having APIs has no real drawbacks although the business needs to know that not all of the APIs are created equal. APIs can differ in terms of the design, level of maturity, and API coverage, so while evaluating a commerce service, the enterprise needs to be sure to explore this area of capabilities in greater detail.

Cloud-native

The cloud-native principle means that the commerce service is delivered in the SaaS model. This provides significant benefits for the business.

Pros

  • On-demand. Enterprise can use commerce service as a whole or its separate components as needed without deploying and re-deploying solution. This provides superior business agility for the enterprise.
  • Scalability.  With the service deployed in the public cloud, it can be easily scaled to support peak demand and long-term business growth.
  • Reliability. Enterprise can leverage a solution deployed across multiple data centers and availability zones to maximize up-time and reduce potential revenue losses.

Cons

The most important drawback in a purely cloud-native solution that if a customer wants to deploy the service in a private cloud or on-prem due to security or any other reasons they don't have that option.

Headless

The headless approach allows an enterprise to support omnichannel journeys across traditional and digital touchpoints as well as new business models.

Pros

  • Omnichannel journeys. The headless approach will enable us to eliminate channel siloes to deliver continuous customer journeys across touchpoints with unified business logic.
  • Flexibility. Enterprise is free to choose any front-end technology to build channel applications without the need to adhere to the solution provided by the commerce vendor.
  • New business models. Businesses can drive revenue growth by introducing new business models, for example, support for new sales channels such as curbside pick-up or IoT-enabled offerings.

Cons

While the headless approach brings a lot of value it means that usually there is no front-end (head) included with the solution. And most often the business has either to build a front-end themselves or bring a 3rd-party head and integrate it with the commerce platform. In both cases, the time-to-market is usually affected in a negative way. To mitigate this challenge commerce service can provide a pre-integrated 3rd party front-end or a set of out-of-the-box reference applications.

 

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