Getting ahead with MACH architecture

July 5, 2023
Dave Heath

As an early adopter of the MACH architecture pattern (before it got the name MACH and was given a pretty logo), our client partners have seen countless benefits of utilising MACH principles in their technical strategies, architectures, and implementations. 

With MACH architecture now vital for business agility, first, let's summarise the basics before we jump into the detail. 

What is MACH Architecture?

I'm not going to start singing out the initials to the beat of Ottawan's 1980s classic D-I -S-C-O, but it cheered me up thinking about it. 

  • M: MicroService: Individual pieces of business functionality that are independently developed, deployed, and managed.
  • A: API: All functionality is exposed through an API.
  • C: Cloud: SaaS that leverages the cloud beyond storage and hosting, including elastic scaling and automatic updating.
  • H: Headless: Front-end presentation, layout and design is decoupled from back-end logic and channel, programming language, and is framework agnostic.

So now you have that song running through your head, I want to move on to how MACH principles have disrupted digital, especially in content management. In short, and shown below (yes, there's a tech diagram, sorry!), there are two main differences between Traditional CMS and MACH implementation architectures.

Traditional CMS

A traditional CMS uses a 'monolithic' architecture, meaning everything is contained, dependent, and owned on and within the 'Black Box' (content, design/presentation and website). 

That black box you purchased would have required your team or 3rd partner to perform a physical install and host on a 'server', resulting in overheads like patches, upgrades, plugins and integrations until the inevitable time that it can no longer be maintained, upgraded or your platform needs to be fundamentally changed to adapt to the market which is too hard to do, so we start again. 

This is the 'Build-Bust-Rebuild' mentality of traditional and monolithic CMSs. Essentially, they are tactical solutions - a time-boxed lifespan with a higher cost of ownership – and NOT a strategic solution.


On the flip side, MACH architecture and principles ensure that no area of a platform or system assumes or owns too much responsibility and ensures that any part of the system can be replaced or scaled without causing an impact on any up or downstream subscriber in the architecture chain.

In essence, this creates the ability for a business to respond to a changing world, pivot, adapt, change direction, and innovate with a lower cost of ownership, and certainly no ground-up rebuilds, a true strategic answer to the problem.

Who sits in the monolith club?

Well, there are a few, and some of them are trying to change by saying they offer a headless capability – however, be careful, as it isn't genuinely headless, with separation between content and layout and presentation, or where they are having too much responsibility and ownership as a system – like it's headless. However, they still store customer leads (which should be decoupled to a CRM). Should I name some of the platforms in the monolith club? Ask me if your digital systems fall into this category!


With that quick summary out of the way, let's dive into how MACH approaches have changed the digital landscape for businesses and how we saw the benefit of pivoting early from traditional CMS implementations to a forward-thinking adoption of decoupled architectures (now known as MACH), showcasing our commitment to pushing the boundaries of digital innovation, and the strategical benefits they have seen.

Through early implementation of what we know today as MACH principles, we provided our client partners with various advantages, transforming how content is managed, delivered, and experienced. From a technical perspective, MACH architecture offers scalability, flexibility, and modularity. At the same time, content editors benefit from simplified workflows, seamless content delivery, and increased control. 

The fears and concerns surrounding this shift can be effectively addressed through user-friendly interfaces, self-service capabilities, and training programs. Ultimately, MACH architecture propels the content management world into a future of endless possibilities, empowering businesses to create exceptional digital experiences.

By implementing MACH principles early on, you can gain a significant advantage over competitors across three important perspectives:

Business perspective

  • Future-proof digital systems: Embracing MACH architecture ensures systems are built with scalability, security, flexibility, and adaptability in mind. They are well-prepared and able to exploit emerging technologies and market trends, benefit from a lower ownership cost, and position themselves as leaders in their respective industries.
  • Achieve faster time to market: MACH's modular nature expedited the development process, allowing you to launch new features, products, and services rapidly. This provides a competitive edge, enabling you to capture market opportunities swiftly.
  • Deliver seamless omni-channel experiences: MACH's headless architecture empowers consistent and personalised experiences across multiple touchpoints, whether web, app, or voice and enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Embrace innovation: By leveraging the latest technologies and being able to experiment not only with the technology itself and its suitability to their needs but also with how it can improve customer experience and interaction with your brand.

Editing perspective

While the technical advantages of MACH architecture are undeniable, it's essential to address content editors' concerns during this transition. So, here are some of the common fears and counterpoints to illustrate the positives:

  • Fear of complexity: Content editors may worry that adopting MACH architecture will make their workflow more complex and challenging. However, MACH simplifies the editing process by offering intuitive interfaces and workflows explicitly tailored for content creation and management. With a well-designed content model, editors can focus on creating engaging content without navigating complex technical blockers.
  • Apprehension about content delivery: Editors may be concerned about seamless content delivery across multiple channels and devices. With its headless approach, MACH architecture enables content editors to create content independently of its presentation. This empowers editors to focus on crafting compelling narratives while developers handle the technical aspects of content delivery. Separating concerns allows for streamlined content management and ensures consistent experiences across various touchpoints.
  • Fear of dependency on developers: Content editors may worry that adopting MACH architecture will increase their reliance on developers for content-related changes. However, MACH promotes a self-service approach, allowing content editors to make updates and changes independently through user-friendly interfaces and content tools. With proper training and support, editors gain control over content updates without requiring constant developer involvement.
  • Concerns about the learning curve: Shifting to MACH architecture may introduce new concepts and tools and may even change some roles and responsibilities, which can be intimidating for content editors. However, MACH content platforms are designed with user-friendly interfaces and intuitive workflows, reducing the learning curve. Training programs and documentation can empower editors to master new tools and processes efficiently.

Technical perspective

  • Scalability and security: Monolithic architectures often struggle with scalability and security, as increasing demand requires scaling the entire application. MACH, with its micro services-based approach, allows for independent scaling of its individual components, enabling seamless handling of high traffic and ensuring optimal performance, and by the nature of its microservice approach, security is therefore increased and built into each layer - keeping us all one step ahead.
  • Flexibility and agility: Monolithic architectures can hinder flexibility and agility since changes to one component may necessitate modifications to the entire application. In contrast, MACH's modular nature facilitates independent development and deployment of services, enabling faster iterations and continuous innovation.
  • Technology diversity: Traditional monolithic architectures typically rely on a single technology stack, framework, or language, limiting the ability to leverage the best tools and technologies available. Being API-first and cloud-native, MACH architectures embrace a diverse technology landscape, allowing businesses to adopt the most suitable solutions for each service or component.
  • Scalable development: MACH enables teams to work independently on different services or components within a business's technical landscape, accelerating development cycles and reducing dependencies and blockers between teams. This fosters innovation and empowers businesses to adapt swiftly to ever-changing demands.
  • Enhanced customer experience: The headless nature of MACH architecture enables the seamless delivery of content across various channels and devices. By decoupling the front-end presentation layer from the back-end services, businesses can provide personalised and consistent experiences, ultimately delighting customers.

. . .

Looking to understand the current state and health of your digital platforms? 

We can help you define and implement a Technical Strategy and North Star to evolve away from your current monolithic black-box products, stopping the build-bust-rebuild cycle and be a MACH-powered business.

About EM Code

EM Code is a customer experience, digital innovation and AI agency. 

We’re a strategic digital partner that delivers breakthrough growth throughout the customer experience (CX). 

We achieve this through our industry-renowned services in digital transformation, web development, brand strategy, click rate optimisation (CRO) and UX (user experience).

Our human centric approach underpins every aspect of our work.

A collective of experts in multiple disciplines, we collaborate to distil the complex needs of organisations and end users to engineer solutions that make an impact.

From fast scaling start ups to global brands, we can help you to transform your organisation.

We are an EssenceMediacom North agency.

About EssenceMediacom North

EssenceMediacom North helps brands to breakthrough in the new communications economy.

Disrupting models of media, EssenceMediacom North accelerates creative and business transformation for its clients roster, including Hillarys, Absolute Collagen, and United Utilities.

The agency delivers breakthrough growth, capabilities, and revenue through the integration of media, creativity, data and technology, combined with its diverse industry-leading expertise.

Equipped with access to the richest data, robust benchmarking and advanced technologies, EssenceMediacom North unlocks new opportunities to deliver truly integrated media solutions for scaling and global brands.

EssenceMediacom North is part of WPP’s media investment group, GroupM

Visit the agency

WPP Manchester Campus

1 New Quay Street

Greater Manchester

M3 4BN

#AIAgency #InnovationAgency #CXAgency #CustomerExperienceAgency #DesignSprint #ProductThinking #BrandStrategyAgency #CROAgency #DigitalTransformationAgency #TechnologyInnovationAgency

Continue reading