Why Should You Consider MACH Architecture + Open Source in Future Solutions?
Do you agree: not all PIM platforms are created equal? If yes, then ‘how are they different?’...you might be wondering. PIM software may differ in many aspects depending on the needs and preferences of businesses. And many of them are based on outdated, monolithic architectures that limit your ability to scale, adapt, and innovate. But now, a new paradigm shift in PIM software is happening owing to evolving customer expectations.
Today’s product information management platform is more attuned to taking personalized product experiences to the next level. The modern and flexible way of building PIM platforms is modular, scalable, adaptable, and future-proof.
The Problem with Traditional PIM Platforms
Traditional PIM platforms lag behind in meeting the needs and challenges of modern digital commerce, where product information needs to be agile, accurate, and engaging across multiple channels and touchpoints. Some of the common challenges are:
- Difficult to modify product information to match seasonal or popular product demands with the more prolonged and arduous process of lengthening, shortening, or adding a product field.
- Lead to product information silos, hurting adoption and product information publishing schedules.
- Limited or no support for rich media and other digital assets.
- Hard to get a single source of truth about the product or a “product 360 view.
- Need to be better-equipped to deal with modern security and compliance challenges of cloud-based deployments.
- Inhibit the flexibility, agility, and innovation of creating and delivering product catalogs.
Many traditional PIM architectures are inward-facing and agnostic to various product data use cases. Now PIM vendors have started including more robust capabilities for product content aggregation, content marketing and media management, and frictional and real-time syndication. That’s where a shift toward MACH architecture in this space is intensifying.
What is MACH Architecture?
MACH stands for Microservices, API-First, Cloud-Native, and Headless. These are four principles that guide the design and development of modern applications and solutions. With modularity and the best-of-breed principle as its core, it provides a modern approach to creating enterprise software stacks using the best technologies for each part.
Monolithic Architecture vs. MACH Architecture
|Monolithic Architecture||MACH Architecture|
|Modularity||Composed of a single unit that cannot be easily separated into smaller parts.||Composed of independent microservices that can be developed, deployed, and scaled independently.|
|Flexibility||Limit the choice of technology and makes it complex to incorporate new features or functionalities.||Flexible and adaptable, it allows for the use of different technologies for each service.|
|Scalability||Difficult to scale, as any change or update affects the entire system.||Easier to scale, as each service can be scaled individually based on the demand and performance.|
|Speed||Comparatively slow and cumbersome, as it requires more time and effort to develop, test, and deploy changes or updates.||Fast and agile, enabling parallel development, testing, and deployment of each service and any changes or updates.|
|Experience||Provide a fixed presentation layer that cannot be easily customized for different channels or devices.||Unlimited and personalized, as it separates the presentation layer from the back-end system.|
Principles of MACH Architecture
Principle 1: Microservices
Microservices or microservices architecture is a way of building an extensive application from modular services. Each service performs a specific task or business goal and communicates with other services using simple interfaces, such as APIs. It offers greater scalability, flexibility, and resilience than monolithic applications that bundle all the functionality together. For example, an eCommerce platform can have separate microservices for product catalog, inventory, checkout, payment, etc. Each microservice can be updated or replaced without affecting others, making it easier to innovate and evolve.
Microservices-based PIM Software
Microservices-based PIM Software can decompose a complex PIM system into smaller and simpler services that are easier to understand, test, and debug. Thus, it enables greater agility and faster time-to-market. You can even roll back if anything goes wrong without redeploying the entire application.
Principle 2: API-first
API-first means that all functionalities are exposed through an API (Application Programming Interface), making it possible to tie together two or more applications or services. APIs enable seamless communication and data exchange between different systems, regardless of their underlying technologies or platforms. For example, an eCommerce platform can use APIs to connect with third-party services such as shipping providers, tax calculators, analytics tools, etc. APIs also enable the creation of custom integrations and extensions for specific business needs.
API First Approach in PIM
API-first PIM platform designs and develops its features and functionality based on the APIs it provides rather than the other way around. This ensures the APIs are consistent, reliable, and scalable and can support any current or future integration or customization requirement.
Principle 3: Cloud-Native
Cloud-Native means that the software is designed and built to leverage the full capabilities of the cloud-- beyond storage and hosting. Cloud-native applications use cloud services such as elastic scaling, load balancing, security, monitoring, etc., to optimize their performance, availability, and reliability. For example, an eCommerce platform can use cloud services to handle peak traffic, prevent downtime, protect data, etc. Cloud-native applications are also delivered as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), which means they are updated automatically and eliminate the need for upgrade management.
Cloud-Native PIM Cloud-Native
PIM leverages the benefits of cloud computing, such as scalability, performance, security, and reliability. It also follows the best practices of cloud development, such as microservices architecture, containerization, orchestration, and continuous delivery.
Principle 4: Headless or Composable
Headless means that the front-end UI is completely decoupled from the back-end logic, allowing greater freedom to build personalized user interfaces and connect to other channels and devices without modifying the back-end system. Headless applications use APIs to deliver content and functionality to any front-end layer, such as web browsers, mobile apps, voice assistants, smart watches, etc. For example, an eCommerce platform can use a headless approach to deliver consistent and personalized shopping experiences across multiple touchpoints.
Headless PIM provides a complete back-end system for managing product data but does not impose any front-end user interface or presentation layer. Instead, it exposes its functionality through APIs that can be consumed by any custom-built or third-party front-end application or channel. It allows you to choose and combine the best-of-breed components and services that suit your specific business needs and goals rather than relying on a monolithic or pre-packaged solution.
The Edge of Open Source in MACH Architecture
The MACH Alliance presents and advocates for an open and best-of-breed enterprise technology ecosystem.
MACH combines many development trends we’re seeing in the software landscape. Digital applications are becoming more composable, cloud-first is rising, and headless models can deliver customization benefits.
- Open source capability, combined with MACH architecture, can solve modern challenges in the following ways:
- Microservices ecosystem, one of the best software available, is created in open source technology to build a microservices architecture.
- The power of open source in API-first approach—enables developers to produce more powerful, resilient solutions in less time—translates directly to improved quality.
- Open source and cloud computing have the most compatibility to unlock innovation, speed up time-to-market, reduce operating costs, and fulfill security and compliance requirements.
- Open source is critical in enabling a headless and composability approach, which is one of the top reasons developers love it so much.
87% of those who have increased MACH are more responsive and ahead of the competition. - MACH Alliance
Moving from traditional or suite-based technology to MACH architecture allows you to choose from the best tools and innovate faster. Here are key benefits of MACH Architecture + Open Source:
- Get a faster route to MVP (minimum viable product) and, therefore, to launch.
- Rapidly roll out prototypes that help prove key concepts before investing in large-scale implementations.
- Deliver engaging and relevant experiences that meet or exceed customer expectations.
- Adapt quickly to changing customer preferences by incorporating new capabilities or channels.
- Leverage the latest technologies and trends without being constrained by legacy systems or vendor lock-in.
- Increased innovation and differentiation.
- Reduced costs and complexity.
- Simplify your IT operations.
Best Practices for MACH Architecture
To successfully implement MACH architecture in your applications and solutions, here are some best practices to follow:
- Adopt a composable enterprise mindset: Composable enterprise means that every component is pluggable, scalable, replaceable, and can be continuously improved. To achieve this, you need to embrace a culture of experimentation, collaboration and continuous learning across your organization.
- Design for flexibility and scalability: MACH architecture allows you to scale up or down your applications and solutions as per your demand and capacity. However, you also need to design them in a way that they can handle different scenarios and requirements without compromising on quality or security.
- Choose the right partners and tools: The partners and tools that you choose should be compatible with your existing systems and technologies, as well as with the MACH principles. They should also be able to integrate with other services and platforms that you use or plan to use in the future. Always evaluate a vendor’s capability, performance and support before making a decision.
Today, many organizations are looking for next generation PIM solutions that can provide agile attribute management, easy workflow design, robust channel-specific image manipulations, and secure cloud integration. MACH architecture and open source are shaping the future of PIM platforms. Together, they can help businesses create future-proof solutions that can keep up with the changing market demands and customer expectations.
To learn more about Pimcore PIM and how it can help you create better digital experiences for your customers, request a demo today.