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4 Challenges Of The Mach Architecture And How To Overcome Them

A man and a woman overcome challenges while using laptops in a bar.

A growing number of enterprises across industries are moving from monolithic to microservices-based and headless architecture; the most future-oriented ones go even further by adopting MACH in their technical stacks.

Moreover, 79% of business leaders plan to increase their MACH investments, according to the “Enterprise MACHified 2022 survey commissioned by the MACH Alliance.

One of the reasons for such a shift is the modularity provided by MACH, making businesses more scalable and flexible. With MACH, developers can smoothly enrich software with new technologies, reconfigure its individual components, and quickly deploy updates, increasing business competitiveness.

However, MACH is not only advantageous but also demanding. Typically, MACH adoption comes with a number of challenges, some of which can make the change too expensive or labor-consuming. In some scenarios, MACH-based projects can even fail completely.

This article covers the concept of the MACH architecture and provides recommendations on how enterprises can avoid the four main MACH adoption challenges.

What is MACH architecture?

Before discussing the main MACH challenges, we should clarify the concept first. In short, MACH is an acronym reflecting four technological principles: microservices, API-first, cloud-native, and headless. Each component makes a unique contribution to the MACH architecture, so we should consider them in more detail.

  • Microservices

Unlike monolithic software, microservices-based solutions are developed and deployed as sets of independent components. Developers can modify and replace each component (service) as needed..

  • API-first

The components of the MACH architecture, such as microservices, connect to each other via API interfaces. By building APIs, developers can smoothly add new components or integrations to the solution.

  • Cloud-native

MACH-based solutions are hosted in the cloud, which makes them even more scalable. Businesses can easily grow such solutions both horizontally and vertically by adding nodes or computing powers.

  • Headless

In MACH-based software, UI (frontend) is separated from business logic (backend), which provides businesses with advanced technological flexibility. With a headless approach, enterprises can quickly implement new frontend technology (like ReactJS or VueJS frameworks) to deliver the best customer experience possible.

What are the main MACH adoption challenges?

Here are some of the difficulties that can arise throughout the MACH adoption.

1. Allocating the right talent and skills

One of the main challenges encompassing MACH-based projects is the need to establish a multidisciplinary and well-rounded team that can handle the development complexity. Foremost, an enterprise requires experienced software engineers capable of multiple programming languages (given that services can be written in different languages).

Also, implementing MACH is only possible with a cloud architect who develops an actionable cloud migration strategy and a QA expert who tests different solution components, ensuring each works properly. In addition, team members can require an experienced project manager to coordinate their work.

Solution:

There are several options for how enterprises can avoid a skill gap while implementing their MACH-based projects. The first is to grow the required specialists in an internal IT department, which can require months to years of training. But what can decision-makers do if they are not ready to postpone a MACH project for an extended period?

In such a case, decision-makers should consider another option. For instance, they can augment the existing workforce with third-party experts. Still, an enterprise will have  to allocate some of its internal IT resources, which can negatively affect business performance.

As an alternative, enterprises can delegate all software development aspects to third-party teams experienced in MACH-based development. Although this option can be the most advantageous (since an enterprise does not need to distract internal staff from their direct duties), it still cannot be considered a silver bullet as it poses various management and communication challenges.

2. Managing a more complex IT infrastructure

As an enterprise moves from a monolithic to a more advanced architecture consisting of multiple components and technologies, it will likely face the increasing complexity and cost of IT management. This challenge becomes almost inevitable when developers build complex systems with dozens or even hundreds of microservices.

Solution:

It is worth noting that an enterprise should not be 100% MACH right from the start. By implementing the MACH principles gradually, an enterprise can partially mitigate the risk of over-complicating the transition to a new infrastructure.

In addition, we recommend that enterprises implement various automation tools, such as automated bookkeeping software. In particular, developers can implement specific automation solutions to monitor microservices, thereby making the work of administrators much less labor-intensive.

3. Ensuring smooth user adoption

Like any severe business transformation, the transition from monolithic to MACH can also come with issues related to user adoption, resulting in lower implementation ROI. In practice, businesses can experience poor login rates, decreased numbers of monthly active users, or lower average usage frequency.

Solution:

To ensure high user adoption, enterprises should develop a change management strategy before starting a MACH project. Here, it is essential to remember that a good strategy does not just focus on employee training. Ideally, it should also imply gathering employee feedback and using it to improve change management, thus providing users with more effective support.

In addition, we recommend involving professional consultants in MACH-based projects early on. Experienced consultants know how to deal with typical user adoption issues that can arise throughout the implementation and can help develop a more robust and actionable change management strategy.

4. Getting stakeholder buy-in

Although MACH can help a business gain a competitive edge, the implementation process itself could be challenging and costly. This, coupled with a normal fear of change, can make stakeholders decline a project that is advantageous for an enterprise in the long run.

Solution:

It is critical to articulate all the benefits expected from the MACH architecture adoption to stakeholders. Techniques such as force field analysis can help identify the pros and cons of a specific MACH-based project and highlight all the benefits of the change.

Final thoughts

Implementing the MACH architecture can provide an enterprise with multiple business benefits, including technological flexibility. With MACH, developers can easily enrich software with new technologies and features, helping businesses deliver better customer experiences and outperform rivals.

Unfortunately, MACH implementation typically comes with many challenges: skill shortage, more complex IT management, and poor user adoption, to name a few. However, by learning all these challenges in advance, enterprises can avoid them, thus ensuring the success of MACH adoption.

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