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An Introduction to MACH CMS and MACH architecture + 4 Benefits

Gillian Mays

Using MACH CMS – a content management system that builds a digital ecosystem on the concept of Microservices based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS, and Headless architecture – is the key to future-proofing your organization and optimizing your site’s performance.

When it comes to technology, tomorrow always comes. Companies compete to create cutting-edge concepts as quickly as possible. You may have heard about MACH CMS being a solution to meeting evolving technical needs. But what does it really mean to harness the power of a MACH CMS?

In a word: future-proofing. MACH structures do away with the need to constantly jump between monolithic systems with fixed lifespans. Instead, it focuses on the connective tissue between programs. Thus, there’s no risk of becoming outdated – you’ll always be able to integrate the next big thing.

With more and more organizations embracing this revolutionary approach, MACH CMS has grown from a novel idea to the gold standard. Let’s take a closer look at how this setup can help your company quickly adapt to an ever-changing industry.

Section titled What is MACH CMS? The key MACH principles explained

MACH stands for Microservices based, API-first, Cloud-native SaaS, and Headless. These are all integral parts of a best-of-breed digital ecosystem. Each element is unique and plays its own role in crafting a future-proof system:

  • Microservices based. Microservices refer to a collection of independent programs that contribute to a single functional system. They may communicate with each other, but still act as specialized tools for specific situations.
  • API-first. An API-first approach means that these tools form the foundation for the CMS. Connection to other programs is a native function of the system rather than an afterthought. This helps you seamlessly combine multiple digital elements into a singular platform.
  • Cloud-native SaaS. With cloud-based systems you don’t have to worry about capping your growth or even monitoring it. Instead, you can rest assured that your organization will be able to quickly and easily expand operations without hitting any resource roadblocks or complex update processes
  • Headless. A headless system does away with default frontends. Instead, you have a centralized backend that can push content out to multiple ‘heads’. This gives you the freedom to expand your presence to multiple platforms without having to deal with siloed, isolated content and the extra work that comes along with it.
A MACH Architecture diagram. The acronym MACH with arrows pointing down to what each letter stands for.

MACH architecture diagram - MACH CMS relies on four main elements: microservices, API-first, cloud-native, and headless.

Forrester recognizes the importance of choosing a MACH CMS, offering this advice to digital experience platform shoppers: 

Have a microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native, headless (MACH) offering. Digital teams need scaling to be instant and APIs to be productive for modern developers. They need cloud-native platform parts to evolve continuously without requiring upgrades. And they need a platform built for interoperability and composability.

Section titled 4 reasons to choose a MACH CMS

More and more people are embracing MACH architecture as the best way to future-proof their systems. Let’s take a closer look at the ways a MACH CMS can help your company succeed.

Section titled 1. Helps you create a tailor-made tech stack

Every project is unique. The same toolkit won’t work for every situation. Fortunately, MACH architecture allows you to customize your tools for a personalized approach to any problem.

It does this by offering a best-of-breed approach. Microservices mean you can pick and choose what features you want to include rather than committing to a pre-packaged set. For example, if you run an online store, a MACH CMS gives you the power to choose independent programs for tasks such as:

  • Personalized product recommendations
  • A shipping and tax calculator
  • Automated customer support

Moreover, it isn’t enough for a program to be powerful on its own – it also needs to easily connect to others. As such, the highest-quality agile systems work with an API-first approach. That way, all of your favorite microservices can seamlessly integrate with your main system as well as communicate with each other.

A series of interconnected boxes with arrows running between them.

An API-first approach ensures you'll never have to deal with outdated technology - simply swap our your programs whenever you need to.

With this approach, you don’t need to settle for a system that’s missing functionality you need or overpay for a package with frivolous features. Instead, you get to craft a custom lineup calibrated to meet your exact needs.

However, it’s worth noting that building a custom tech stack takes a lot of time, effort, and expertise – if you’re running a smaller, simpler organization, you might want to consider if it’s right for you.

Section titled 2. A MACH CMS lets you scale and grow projects with no limitations

Businesses can grow fast. If you don’t choose a MACH CMS, you might find yourself in a situation where an inelastic structure limits your growth. On the other end, you could also be stuck paying for resources that you don’t need.

MACH embraces the power of both cloud-native technology and headless systems. The result is a setup that removes restrictions on every level:

  • Save time spent on scaling up physical resources in a traditional system
  • Manage and produce content for unlimited unique frontends from a centralized backend – websites, apps, and even virtual showrooms
  • Incorporate the latest technology as it becomes relevant to your business

Headless also gives you the flexibility to make all these changes without altering the UX. Both you and your users can enjoy a seamless transition to bigger and better projects.

Headless is quickly becoming the standard in content management. Learn more in our whitepaper!

Section titled 3. Provides a more efficient approach

We’ve talked about how a cloud approach saves you time and effort with greater expansion capabilities. However, MACH CMS also comes with a few other significant advantages:

  • Start faster. SaaS solutions are designed to work out of the box. Spend less time on setup and more time creating your content.
  • Automatic upgrades. Upgrades are critical to maintaining your project’s performance and security. The cloud aspect of MACH architecture ensures that your tech will follow the latest standards without you having to interfere.
  • Developer-friendly. Your developers won’t be locked into one single language. They’re free to create using the frameworks they know best, meaning you save time on a learning curve and give them the tools to work to the best of their abilities.

A headless system also means you’ll only have to create your content once. No need to copy over every line to a new system – just push it out to the channels you need.

Section titled 4. MACH CMS gives you greater freedom to customize and adapt your approach

A large part of digital freedom comes from the ability to choose the technology that works best. MACH architecture is designed to maintain that flexibility: you decide what the system will do for you, not the other way around.

Each aspect of MACH plays into this principle:

  • Microservices: Choose exactly the technology that you need so you never need to settle for less
  • API-first: Easily swap between different technologies as frequently as you need
  • Cloud-native SaaS: Quickly scale up production without unnecessary intervention on your part
  • Headless: Free yourself from default frontends, siloed content, and the restrictive rules of a traditional CMS

This is a huge reason why MACH is so popular: it’s future-proof. It’s not defined by today’s technology, which risks quickly becoming obsolete as it advances. Instead, the focus is on providing a robust system that connects you to whatever you need - thus enabling you to endlessly evolve your project. Not to mention that this process goes quickly – and if you’re like the 59% of marketers in a recent study, agile adaption is a top priority.

Section titled Storyblok and the MACH Alliance

As people discover the value of MACH CMS, more and more companies are making the switch. However, knowing which products truly embody these principles can be challenging. That’s where the MACH Alliance comes in:

MACH written in yellow letters above the word 'alliance' on a white square against a green background.

The MACH Alliance champions MACH architecture as the most flexible, effective, and forward-thinking approach.

The MACH Alliance is a vendor-agnostic organization that promotes MACH architecture as the ideal system for agile, future-proof content management systems. One way it does this is by running a community of certified members. To earn this certification, individuals or companies must demonstrate that their company embraces MACH architecture and all the benefits that it offers.

Storyblok is a proud member of the MACH Alliance. We strive to embody the same ideals: freedom, power, and future-proof technology that supports your projects reaching their full potential.

Section titled Key takeaways

MACH CMS is the key to making your digital presence ready for the future. Thanks to its focus on connecting technology, you’ll never have to worry about it becoming outdated. By breaking free from the constraints of a traditional system, you can help your organization operate with more power and efficiency – both today and tomorrow.

Ready to future-proof your organization’s technology? Contact our sales team to learn how we can upgrade your digital ecosystem!