Technology / Contributed

Transform and Future-Proof Your Architecture with MACH

29 Jul 2021 5:00am, by

Nishant Patel
Nishant Patel is CTO and co-founder of Contentstack. Previously, Nishant was Founder, CEO and CTO of Built.io, which was acquired by German software powerhouse Software AG in September 2018. Nishant is a technology visionary with an extensive track record creating software products that power digital transformation and further the rise of the API economy. With more than 20 years of experience solving complex technology problems, Nishant has become a respected and trusted technology advisor to many Fortune 500 companies. Nishant holds a B.S. in Computer Science from The Ohio State University.

To remain competitive in today’s market, companies need to innovate constantly to keep up with advancing technologies and ever-rising consumer expectations.

The sad truth is that a lot of established companies are weighed down by clunky legacy infrastructure systems. Because these monolithic systems take so many resources to manage, maintain, and upgrade, innovation tends to take a backseat.

Often, these companies find themselves locked into a suite ecosystem because, when they were establishing their infrastructure, there wasn’t a need for omnichannel delivery like there is today. Besides, it seemed a lot simpler to manage one software vendor than dealing with procurement, finance, and governance issues for multiple different vendors for their different needs.

This presents a few problems. The first is that most of these vendors tend to do one or two things very well, while other products in their suite are unlikely to measure up against the best-in-breed products available.

The second, and perhaps even more critical problem, is that many of these suite-approach vendors are still in the throes of their transformation and shift to cloud-based services.

This means they’re expending a lot of energy on just trying to catch up to their more agile competitors. In turn, they’re likely not investing enough resources in innovation to offer their customers a competitive advantage, which means they’re holding them back.

Through their complacency, these vendors have failed their customers. They should have moved to the cloud years ago and helped their customers adjust to the new way of operating.

Suddenly, their customers realize how behind they are and have to scramble to transform their business models and the underlying infrastructure to remain competitive in the future.

Why Do So Many Companies Remain in These ‘Bad Marriages’ with Monolithic Vendors?

For many of these businesses, their legacy systems represent many years of investment, in capital and human resources. Because they’ve already invested so much, making a change feels like admitting they made a mistake and giving up.

Another factor at play is that businesses mired in legacy infrastructure often suffer from misconceptions about what transformation entails. Most imagine that transformation means they’ll have to execute a wholesale overhaul, which is understandably overwhelming.

The truth is, it’s not their fault. These companies trusted their vendors to have their best interests at heart, and they let them down. But the good news is, it’s entirely possible to transform a business’s infrastructure incrementally, one project at a time.

Enter MACH

Today, there’s a growing segment of MACH vendors that empower companies to build a cloud-based tech stack, choosing the best-in-breed service for each of their business needs.

MACH stands for microservices, API-first, cloud native, and headless. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these terms means:

  • Microservices – Different business functions are handled by independent pieces of software.
  • API-first – All functionality is delivered via application programming interfaces (APIs).
  • Cloud native – Cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) takes advantage of all the capabilities of the cloud, allowing for rapid scaling. Updates are managed by the vendor.
  • Headless – The front-end presentation is entirely decoupled from backend logic. Headless solutions are channel, device, framework, and programming language agnostic.

MACH technologies are inherently modular and scalable, which means they give companies the ability to choose the best product available for every functionality, building a best-in-breed tech stack that offers customers the best experience possible.

Building a MACH stack means future-proofing your business without doing the heavy lifting yourself. As technologies advance and trends change, agile MACH-powered vendors take care of updating and upgrading the functionality, keeping their customers at the cutting edge of innovation.

The modular approach of MACH architecture means that adding, removing, or updating a feature doesn’t cause downtime, so companies can roll out new services and evolve their tech stack as gradually or rapidly as they want. Plus, they’re immune to the vendor lock-in common to suite products, because they can simply replace individual modules if a better one becomes available.

Global bakery ingredients supplier Dawn Foods recently transformed its operations using a MACH approach to launch a brand new headless B2B eCommerce platform. Whereas in the past, all sales were conducted via telephone or in-person, Dawn Foods’ new platform allows customers to shop its extensive catalog and order with a single click.

To do so, Dawn Foods partnered with commercetools for a headless eCommerce platform, Contentstack for a headless CMS, and EPAM Systems for development services. Using a headless architecture means it’s far easier to manage omnichannel content and rapidly roll out modern, engaging customer experiences. Content managers can publish, update, or renew content without needing help from IT.

Since launching the platform, Dawn Foods has made more than 40 improvements to the front-end user interface in response to customer feedback. These include updating product information to answer all customers’ questions about nutritional content and more and rolling out additional features like shopping lists.

According to Bob Howland, Dawn Foods’ chief digital officer, the ability to rapidly update its customer interface in response to customer needs without updating code in its commerce engine is a key reason why they opted to create a composable and headless tech stack.

Implementing MACH

Implementing MACH doesn’t have to mean overhauling your entire infrastructure at once. Take a crawl-walk-run approach and start by rolling out one MACH-powered project or platform.

Choose agile, best-in-breed technologies and build competencies within your teams and familiarize them with the MACH approach. Remember, successful transformation is not just about updating your technology – it’s about people and processes too.

As in the case of Dawn Foods, you need to decide to take action to remain competitive in the future. Once the decision is made, it’s up to leadership to pave the way and get procurement, finance, and governance teams ready to deal with multiple vendors and steadily implement MACH principles across the organization and gradually roll out transformational improvements.

The New Stack is a wholly owned subsidiary of Insight Partners. TNS owner Insight Partners is an investor in the following companies: Contentstack, MADE, CommerceTools.

Feature image via Pixabay.

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