MACH versus monolithic suites

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Tim BenniksPosted on Oct 5, 2022
4 min read
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Today, with consumers fast becoming digitally advanced, companies realize that old technologies are no longer viable and that companies must evolve continually to keep up with consumer expectations. However, making technology decisions can be difficult, confusing, and stressful, especially since you might have to live with them for years. You also run the risk of being locked into products that cannot keep up with your organization's changing needs or, even worse, products that were never a good fit in the first place. No wonder that when an architecture emerges that promises to reduce that risk, people pay attention.

Reality is, monolithic suites are no longer the safest choice. In their quest to stay agile, nimble, customer-centric, and future-proof, businesses must find more effective ways for transforming digital experiences and are turning to the increasingly popular MACH architecture. 

MACH architecture explained

MACH stands for microservices, API-first, cloud-based, and headless, comprising decoupled, modular, self-contained, and independent components that work together as one, as explained below:

  • Microservices: These are individual business capabilities that are independently built, deployed, and managed.

  • API-first: APIs [application programming interfaces] function as the pipeline through which applications interact, resulting in a microservices-based architecture that activates data exchange among the services.

  • Cloud-native: Since cloud computing offers scalability and adaptability, cloud-native applications foster innovation, accelerating the creation and optimization of microservices and, in turn, the process of project initiation through delivery.

  • Headless: This approach of decoupling the front-end user experience from the back-end logic spells complete freedom in building omnichannel digital experiences.

Together, those four components promise to reduce the risk of product lock-in and enable enterprises to adopt technologies that best meet their needs in a timely manner. As a response to the monolithic architectures that have long dominated enterprise applications, MACH addresses the limitations of legacy technologies while staying flexible for businesses to adapt to changes. 

Understanding MACH requires coming to grips with its two foundational concepts, integration and composability, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of its monolithic predecessor.

MACH as an evolution of monoliths

Though costly, monoliths are convenient because, being from a single vendor, their components are likely to work well together. Additionally, since most monolithic vendors are well-established market players, they offer all the features required for building and maintaining digital experiences and serve as a single contact for businesses to call on in case of issues.

Encompassing its services in one interdependent package, MACH evolves from a monolithic, tightly coupled system. Those services, frequently called a “best-of-need” stack, comprise robust APIs for facilitating data exchange among services along with the best tools for experience creation without incurring expenses on unnecessary features. Another benefit is that businesses need not depend on a single vendor’s roadmap for new channels or technologies.

However, businesses might find it difficult to evaluate the array of MACH vendors and tools and make the right decisions. Also, given MACH’s multivendor setup, teams might need to perform their tasks with several tools instead of one, as in the case of a monolithic system. Another major challenge is that integration of the tools often requires heavy custom coding.

To decide which system, MACH or monolithic, to opt for, businesses must find out if the advantages are real and whether the advantages surpass the disadvantages.

Suites versus MACH

The difference between a suite and MACH comes down to choice. In the case of a suite, the vendor selects the products for you. With MACH, you pick the products you want from the vendors you prefer.

Back when suites were popular, building a stack was just not practical for most businesses. Nowadays, vendors are building products with the expectation that companies will integrate them with other products. Moreover, delivering those products through a cloud-based infrastructure means that businesses need not support multiple products built with different technologies. That’s the world enabled by MACH.

For businesses that aim at building a technology stack of products that meet their unique requirements, MACH provides the foundational architecture. Therefore, if you buy a CMS, a personalization tool, and an enterprise module built on MACH principles, you can seamlessly and consistently connect them all. 

Still, the suite approach continues to predominate, and businesses often adopt it even while designing a modern, composed architecture. That practice has led to the birth of the MACH monolith, an in-between version of the old suite approach and the new composable way of designing architectures.

Uniform as the infrastructure of composable systems

Uniform offers a fast track to composability by handling all the difficult and time-consuming integration tasks, personalization settings, etc., so that you can focus on critical undertakings like web design and content creation.

Remarkably, Uniform offers composability right out of the box. You get to select the components that you want in your stack, and we handle all the connections and orchestration. You need not build this complex but valuable integration yourself.

To recap, building composable systems on a MACH architecture is a modern, sustainable approach that resolves the difficult problems organizations have accepted as a natural part of working with enterprise software. With composability, you can build stacks with tools of your choice. The MACH architecture makes all that happen in a sustainable, scalable manner, and Uniform provides the infrastructure for orchestration across your MACH platforms. For a more detailed breakdown, do read Demystifying MACH architecture in a composable world.

Uniform has been named in the

2022 Gartner® Cool Vendors™ in Digital Commerce Report