Read time: 5 min

The pros and cons of MACH architecture

Modular Web

The philosophy that monolith systems cannot keep up with digital customer expectations came only recently. Not long after the idea followed for a new approach to developing IT systems: MACH. The MACH architecture is a unique approach to building software that has gained popularity in recent years. MACH is an acronym for Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native and Headless. There are several benefits to using a MACH architecture, including increased flexibility and scalability, as well as the ability to more easily third-party services. However, there are also some drawbacks, such as a potential increase in complexity and the need for more specialized expertise, which should be considered before adopting it.

What is MACH?

A MACH architecture is a new form of building a tech stack. MACH is an acronym for Microservices, API-based, Cloud native, and Headless. This kind of architecture enables companies to choose from the best tools on the market, and therefore provide a landscape that makes it easy to add, replace or remove technologies in the future. In this way, companies can build their unique value chain. In this blog, we go more in-depth about what MACH architecture is.

Pros and cons of a MACH Architecture

Benefits of MACH

The landscape of MACH, exists in the cloud, which results in a flexible and scalable landscape. Therefore, one of the biggest benefits of MACH is its flexibility. This architecture allows developers to build applications that are composed of small, independent services that can be deployed and scaled independently. This can make it much easier to update and maintain applications, as well as to add new features. In addition, when changing or improving some aspects of the landscape, you don't have to worry due to the ease of the architecture. 

Another advantage of MACH is that it is designed to be cloud-native. This means that it is easy to deploy applications built using this architecture on cloud platforms such as AWS and Azure. This can result in reduced costs and improved performance.

The headless nature of MACH also has benefits. This architecture decouples the front-end and back-end of applications, which can make it easier to maintain complex applications. This decoupling can also make it easier to scale applications, as the front end can be scaled independently of the back end. This aspect makes this a more customer-centric approach. In addition, it makes the time-to-market faster: you can prove key concepts before investing in large-scale implementations which eventually saves time and money. 

Furthermore, you don’t have to do research for the whole platform; due to the microservices you only choose what you need. Meaning you’ll do only research for the service that you or your department wants to optimize. One of the benefits, you can invest your time and money elsewhere. 

Disadvantages of MACH

Even though the MACH architecture looks amazing, not everything is perfect. You completely start from scratch. You need to be able to build a system, choose services, and therefore know what you need in order to pay attention in the selection process. This makes the process more complex, and causes one of the biggest drawbacks of MACH. This architecture can be difficult to understand and implement, particularly for developers who are new to microservices. This complexity can also make it difficult to debug applications and to ensure that they are performing as expected.

Most companies try implementing this new strategy for only one division, and if it works well, slowly start an integration for the whole company. 

Another potential drawback of MACH is that it can be difficult to coordinate updates to the various services that make up an application. This can lead to inconsistencies and errors, which can be difficult to resolve. Finally, the headless nature of MACH can also be a disadvantage. This can make it difficult to build user interfaces for applications, as the front-end and back-end are decoupled. This can also lead to increased development time and complexity.

Management criticism

Most management teams are worried about the MACH architecture because they fear that the platform will get lost. Managing everything from one platform gives certainty, but having different tools working together can be more uncertain. However, a monolithic architecture doesn’t give the same attention to their services. For example, the check-out service from a monolithic architecture isn’t optimized. With a MACH architecture, you choose a tool that focuses on a certain service and therefore guarantees great service. 

In addition, management levels are under the impression that implementing a MACH architecture is difficult, complex, and time-consuming, but implementing a MACH architecture is quite simple. Start with your monolithic system and start peeling it layer by layer. Little by little you can add microservices to your monolithic system, which eventually results in having a MACH architecture. In order to make this change happen, you’ll need a great development team. 

Should you choose MACH for your next web project?

Despite the drawbacks and criticism, MACH’s advantages are overruling if you’d ask us. The scalability, flexibility and its headless nature can give you the freedom of creating your next web project completely to your liking. There are several headless CMSs in the market that support a MACH architecture. But to keep it simple and clear, it would be wise to choose a headless CMS that will make things easy for you instead of complex. Read this guide about how to choose your next headless CMS if you’d like to know more about it.