How to Build an Agile Infrastructure


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Monday, March 1, 2021

We won’t go too deep into COVID-19’s impact on business - that’s already been covered at great length elsewhere. But if there’s one thing that the events of 2020 emphasized above all others, it's that agility is key.

Article 5 Minutes
How to Build an Agile Infrastructure

While the ability to pivot quickly to market fluctuations might previously have been thought of as a competitive edge, it’s now an essential characteristic for businesses looking to survive and grow. And as the world continues to spend more and more time online, digital agility is at the heart of that.

With customers becoming more digitally connected, businesses are beginning to realize the need for the continuous evolution of their technology. Companies can’t always depend on outdated automation or enterprise software solutions; they need to find better ways to remain customer-centric, futureproof and agile.

Monolithic off-the-shelf solutions would be the answer if change wasn’t inevitable. But a dependency on legacy systems can leave businesses locked into rigid solutions that don’t have the ability to develop and adjust quickly enough to support the growth of the organization. As a result, many businesses are seeking a more agile approach, and digitally transforming with MACH architecture to achieve their goals.

What is MACH?

MACH stands for:

  • Microservice - Single pieces of functionality that can be individually designed/deployed, leading to faster development and release cycles and quicker updates
  • API-first - Enabling the flow of data between microservices
  • Cloud-native - For on-demand access and unrivaled scalability
  • Headless - The ability to deliver amazing front-end experiences without the distraction of back-end architectures, freeing you up to respond rapidly to changing market conditions

MACH-architected platforms focus on what can be called ‘composable’ architecture, facilitating business agility by offering leaders the chance to take a more modular, best-in-class approach.

MACH is a new way of thinking about building your brand’s digital landscape and unifying your end-users’ experience across all touchpoints.

MACH makes sense if:

  • You need speed and agility: sudden business and market shifts require quick, agile changes in how your digital platform operates
  • Siloes are holding you back: you have teams working across different departments but regularly work on solutions in parallel with each other
  • You have a complex solution: your solution needs to work across multiple channels and customer touchpoints
  • You need to scale at pace: your business experiences regular fluctuations (Black Friday Sales, for example) that require a scalable infrastructure

These could apply to any and all businesses. In present conditions, change is almost inevitable, and everyone is looking to scale at pace. Brands need a way to keep their customer bases engaged and inspired, and in an always-online world, that means rearchitecting the digital infrastructure with baked-in agility.

Research firm Gartner predicts that “by 2023, organizations that have adopted a Composable Commerce approach will outpace the competition by 80% in the speed of new feature implementation.”

The message then, is clear. A move to composable, MACH-based architecture is key. It offers business leaders greater flexibility to avoid rigid, basic, out-of-the-box software packages or features, delivering more modular and granular control over their digital applications. As Four51 describes it, these composable applications

"...are often leaner, faster, and more flexible. To work even faster and deliver an experience that’s far superior, this development approach lets you seamlessly combine different best-of-breed components, from content management to payment processing."


The next generation of enterprise architecture

The four principles of MACH provide a futureproof business strategy built for customization, growth, agility and speed. With it, developers and marketers can deploy the best-in-breed microservices they need and prioritize the key services to accelerate innovation and create a unique customer experience.

The potential of MACH has led to leading firms in the space forming the MACH Alliance with the aim of shining a light on the next generation of enterprise architectures and demonstrating the alternatives available to traditional suite-solutions. For brands to be able to scale and respond to disruption - whether that’s a shifting customer trend or a global pandemic - they must rethink their businesses, apply modern approaches and transform by doing.

The aim of the alliance is to educate the wider market on the transformative nature of MACH technologies and to provide an alternative route for customers who are looking for a more responsive technical architecture. All of the vendors and partners in the MACH space are looking to provide those building blocks in a way that makes it possible for companies other than the Amazons and Ubers of the world to benefit.

For those brands, it’s been hard to find independent information/direction on how to create end to-end solutions that on one hand have all the benefits of microservices, APIs, cloud and headless, without requiring an in-house army of engineers to architect, develop and run.

An agile, modern solution

Valtech is one of the founding members of the MACH Alliance. As a leader in this field, we’re really excited to be part of this, to develop and share knowledge and best practices and to help customers take the right approach to selecting and building these modern platforms. The open nature of the alliance also fits well with the new reality that collaboration is needed to create the ultimate user experience/journey for clients and their customers.

Brands should consider introducing MACH into their enterprise platform when faced with sudden market shifts that require agile responses, to break down internal silos, to apply solutions across multiple channels or if their business experiences regular fluctuations that require scalable infrastructure.

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