• MACH, 
  • Composable Architecture

Growing the MACH Architecture Ecosystem, One Microservice at a Time

Andy Kaiser
Andy Kaiser
December 11, 2022 · 6 min read
Growing the MACH Architecture Ecosystem, One Microservice at a Time

Following our €5M funding, Kaya Ismail published an article highlighting why our story is significant for the MACH ecosystem. 

Allow me to summarize. 

Because Ninetailed was initially built and grown as a headless, API-first, and composable SaaS, Ismail noted that our funding round and role in the MACH landscape was significant. Not because similar stories don’t exist but because it’s another sign that composable solutions are growing beyond the realms of web content management and e-commerce platforms.

“There’s a stark difference between hearing that a composable ecosystem is technically viable versus hearing that all its components are actively buying into the underlying philosophy to make it as seamless as possible. These are the green flags buyers seek, and Ninetailed just planted one for the team,” Ismail said. 

What Do Enterprise Buyers Want?

We built and launched Ninetailed, knowing that the composable digital experience platform trend was only just taking off. 

That said, we are under no illusions about how most enterprises currently operate online. The vast majority are still locked into legacy monoliths. Some are contractually obliged, whereas others deem the path to composable to be too complex at this time. 

What’s clear, however, is that a paradigm shift is occurring. More and more enterprises are realizing the benefits of MACH and composable architecture and thus moving away from legacy suites. 

The fact that legacy platforms like Drupal, WordPress, and Sitecore are themselves trying to pivot into being API-first and headless is further proof of this shift. 

Learning from our interactions with various potential enterprise customers, as well as the interactions of our partners, we’ve noticed some trends.

Enterprise customers are happy that API-first microservices are organizing themselves in the form of the MACH Alliance. But as Ismail pointed out, there is a lack of MACH-aligned startups in categories like analytics, search, testing, and personalization. 

MACH buyers want to be flexible and agile, for sure. They want the ability to choose between a wide range of API-first microservices to build and adapt their composable architectures in line with global trends, company growth, and regional expansion. 

At the same time, they don’t want to lose the stability and cohesion they experienced with legacy systems, where integrations were rarely needed thanks to the vendor’s wide range of native tools and platforms.

This is partly why we built Ninetailed the way we did, and it’s why we believe other startups should follow suit. There needs to be MACH buy-in across the MarTech landscape that will convince more brands that the benefits of going composable (agility, interoperability, and composability) are sustainable. 

Without broader buy-in, more partnerships, and tangible digital infrastructure in place to help enterprises navigate building a digital experience platform, many enterprises will decide that sticking with their legacy system is less risky. 

The MACH Startup Playbook: How to Join the Composable Movement

While some (warranted) gatekeeping is going on, it is possible to ride the wave of the MACH movement without any certifications. 

1. Don’t Try to Be Hybrid-MACH

The MACH Alliance makes it clear that their certification is “for the company and not individual solutions.” In other words, if you’re planning to launch multiple products, make them individually API-first and API-only without packaging up any platforms into a monolithic entity. 

If you already have a monolith, you’ll want to re-launch each tool as an API-first microservice and ditch your suite platform. 

It’s also vital to note that all your microservice functions should be accessible via API, ensuring as much interoperability as possible between your software and other software on the market. 

2. Ride the REST and GraphQL Wave

The architectural principles of REST and GraphQL are more flexible and efficient compared to SOAP. Thus, REST and Graphql have emerged as the preferred choices for the MACH and composable landscape. 

In 2020, Kelly Goetsch, Chief Strategy Officer of commercetools and Founding President of the MACH Alliance, noted that commercetools saw roughly 75% of its customers using GraphQL.

“We really see it picking up widely. You can retrieve exactly, precisely what is requested.” Kelly explained during a webinar.

3. Embrace the Cloud From Day One

This may be a no-brainer for some. But there are reasons for startups to consider an on-premise version of their software. Our advice? Don’t. 

Once again, the MACH Alliance’s criteria outline that a MACH-aligned company should have only cloud-based offerings, including true multi-tenancy, with no versioning of your software that forces customers to implement or download updates. 

Smooth sailing SaaS is the future, so why fight it?

4. Build Partnerships Across the MACH Landscape

If you’re a web analytics microservice, why wouldn’t you race your competitors to land the most partnerships in the MACH landscape?

By formally partnering up with various MACH vendors, system integrators, and thought leaders, you’ll soon position your startup as a viable option in an enterprise’s composable ecosystem. You unlock the potential for headless CMS and headless commerce vendors to list your product on their marketplaces and recommend you as a partner to their own customers searching for A/B testing solutions. 

The MACH Startup Playbook In Action

Following these principles has had a profound impact on Ninetailed’s success and also on the success of its customers. 

And finally, we arrive at the question; Are there any other companies out there following this MACH startup playbook?

Outside of Ninetailed, I know several startups walking a similar path. The story of Stackbit stands out. 

Focusing on being a DXC (Digital Experience Composition) solution that supports a composable ecosystem, Stackbit has sought out strategic technology partners, including Contentful, Sanity, and Shopify, enabling its customers to pick and mix microservices that play nicely with Stackbit. 

The company also boasts a list of system integrator partners to help strategize, design, implement, and maintain Stackbit-powered ecosystems. 

From an agency or system integrator perspective, we have exciting stories from companies like Orium and Apply Digital. 

Orium has launched Composable.com and the Composable.com™ Accelerator, a “proprietary approach to delivering headless commerce experiences built upon curated suites of best-in-class modular technologies.”

Apply Digital is also bullish on the MACH scene, stating that their “MACH experts are here to set your business free of bottlenecks using a collection of modern best-of-breed technologies. Leverage the power of composability with smooth integrations and a whole digital solution.”

“Awareness about MACH architecture is growing rapidly among enterprises, and we see a similar trend among SaaS companies seeking growth,” explained Ronak Ganatra, Marketing Director at Lano and MACH Alliance Ambassador. “As a vendor, whether you’re already in the MACH landscape or trying to pivot into it, the need for partnerships, integrations, and collaboration has never been so crucial,” Ganatra continued.

When it comes to the future of digital experience, composability will be key. Enterprises that don’t move towards a MACH architecture and embrace composability will quickly find themselves left behind. But with the right partners in place, enterprises can make this shift without taking on too much risk. At Ninetailed, we’ve seen the transformative power of MACH-first principles, and we’re excited to see what the future holds for enterprises that embrace it.

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