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5 Things You Need to Know about MACH

Matt Bradbeer

Director, Account Management, EPAM
Blog

During the 1990s, the dot-com boom initiated a massive revolution, led largely by retailers, that transformed the way in which companies reached their customers. The pureplay dot-com players had unrivalled agility and capability to deliver new customer experiences because they were architecting their platforms to be flexible, deliver new functionalities quickly and empower the business to deliver what the customer needed. Part of this was out of necessity due to costs and resources, but it also stemmed from the fact that the internet provided a new opportunity for businesses to start afresh and ignore the older ways of working.

After the dot-com bubble burst—and many traditional companies went online—they found themselves gravitating toward a more centralized system, which is when we saw businesses start to implement all-in-one or “monolithic” solutions. While these stable and well-supported ecosystems made it simpler for businesses to manage their own tech systems given the lack of standardization in the industry at-large, it was not as flexible as the initial pureplay approach. Now, as the industry has become more standardized, there is an opportunity for businesses to work with a partner who can help them combine several products and services to create their own unique best-of-breed technological ecosystems, tailored to their specific needs.

With the emergence of Microservices, API-first, Cloud-Native and Headless (MACH) architecture, we once again see values that were core to the initial dot-com boom—flexibility, agility and speed—in action today as companies gravitate back toward decentralized systems that now offer the consistency and support previously only available from all-in-one platforms.

Below are the top five things you need to know about this new approach to technology:

  1. Your business is in control of its own roadmap.
    Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of MACH is its ability to put your business in the driver’s seat of your own roadmap. When implementing a monolithic system, your business might be at the mercy of that platform’s roadmap and upgrade path. With a MACH framework, your business can deliver products and services on your own timeline – no matter how aggressive it is. While in the short-term the implementation time for a MACH architecture might be the same as integrating a platform-centric ecosystem into your business’s existing workflows, the key difference is in the medium- and long-term gains.
    Since one of the core tenets of MACH is multi-tenant cloud-native SaaS, you eliminate the time—and costs—associated with upgrades. MACH supports automation and DevOps approaches, marking an end to lengthy release cycles, code freezes and rollbacks. And, if a component in your ecosystem isn’t working properly—or if another offering enters the market that has better features for your needs—you can swap it out or utilize another solution. These factors allow businesses to be more agile and flexible, and ultimately, bring value to market much more quickly.
  2. You can boost revenue – and cut long-term costs.
    In addition to removing upgrading costs, development costs will also drop with a MACH architecture. Since MACH ecosystems usually utilize widely-used languages like JavaScript and Python, companies only need to work with developers who are fluent in these more common languages, which are much more ubiquitous than highly-specialized developers who focus on specific systems.
    Just as the total cost of ownership will come down, profitability will rise. As businesses open new lines of revenue—at a much faster pace—they won’t need to worry about losing out on new opportunities since changes can easily be made as necessary.
  3. Your business operations should be reviewed before implementation.
    Before adopting MACH, it's important to think about how you're working as a business and how you can use this new architecture to its full effect before fully embracing it. Adopting a product-led approach to delivery, with clear product owners and cross-functional delivery teams, will help you get the most out of a MACH setup. Consider what you are going to deliver to your customers in terms of functionality – whether digitally or offline. Break down the traditional silos between tech, delivery, marketing and commercial teams, and introduce shared KPIs and targets. Having a detached front-end, as a result of the headless philosophy, can free up your customer-facing teams to execute at the pace they require. This will remove the tech team bottleneck, and free up your developers to build new capabilities.
  4. You don’t have to rip and replace your monolithic system.
    If your business decides to implement a MACH solution, it doesn’t mean that you have to entirely remove your current monolith. In fact, you can even leverage parts of MACH to augment your current ecosystem. A very successful approach has been to “top and tail” an existing architecture. You can “top” your existing architecture by detaching the front-end experience so that it is not tied to back-end systems and releases, and “tail” it by introducing a distributed order management system. Or, for example, you may feel that your CMS is perfectly suited for your business’s internal needs, but you might identify that the search functionality of your website isn’t working appropriately for customers. In this case, you could add a better microservice and a corresponding API on to your current monolith. If parts of your current workflows are working, you don’t have to remove what’s working but rather switch over and then switch it off.
  5. You need a technically-savvy connector.
    Often the most daunting part of deciding to implement a MACH solution are the number of partners to choose from – and the prospect of managing all of them successfully. To start, try to understand the various benefits that each partner brings to the table and how they integrate with one another. Whether it’s an in-house expert or a global technology partner that can serve as a trusted advisor, your business needs someone who is technology-agnostic to provide an unfiltered perspective and manage the many moving parts of MACH. To do this well, the partner that you choose to work with should have a high level of technical maturity to ensure that you are getting the best out of your technologies.

Ultimately, implementing a MACH framework can help your business get back to the basics of what technology was originally designed to do – make businesses more flexible, agile and faster. In order to unleash the full capabilities of MACH, you need a trusted partner who can help you design, implement and maintain a solution that’s customized to your business’s unique needs. 

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