MACH vs Jamstack: A Guide to Building The Modern Tech Stack

Building fast, customer-centric digital experiences today requires modular, composable components. Learn how MACH and Jamstack support these goals.

MACH vs Jamstack: A Guide to Building The Modern Tech Stack

Chloe Spilotro 04.01.2022

Building fast, customer-centric digital experiences today requires modular, composable components. As Gartner put it, the future of applications is composable, and businesses that adopt a composable architecture can scale, innovate, and replace any of these components without impacting the others. 

Jamstack and MACH architecture are examples of this next stage of composable applications. MACH refers to software that are microservice-based, API-first, cloud-native, and have headless architecture, highlighting the key characteristics organizations should look for when buying software. Jamstack focuses on JavaScript, APIs, and Markup, allowing you to deliver web applications with higher scalability, performance, and speed.

If you’re looking for the best way to build modern composable applications, read on to find out how MACH architecture and Jamstack make it possible.

The Era of Composable Applications

Let’s first break down the ideas of monolithic versus composable digital experience platforms (DXP). In the past, enterprises typically relied on an all-in-one monolithic DXP. While these types of DXP provide several components that you’d ideally need together in a single centralized space, it doesn’t come without limitations. 

Monolithic architectures lead to vendor-lock-in, preventing you from scaling or integrating with best-of-breed solutions. Moreover, the frontend presentation layer is coupled tightly with the backend data and logic functionality. This presents drawbacks, including greater application complexity, limited customization, and lower scalability. 

These shortcomings of monolithic architectures heralded the emergence of modular, flexible, and scalable applications and approaches. Building on the headless CMS movement, enterprises now strive for composable architectures that are API-first and cloud-native. Embracing composable DXPs provides a higher degree of scalability and customization not available with monoliths.

MACH architecture and Jamstack both follow the composable DXP route. Let’s take a look at each, including their benefits and drawbacks.

MACH Architecture Explained

MACH architecture is a concept that represents four tenets of application development: microservices, API-first, cloud-native, and headless. It eschews traditional application development in favor of modular and composable microservices. That way, you can realize greater agility and scalability in development.

While a product or platform may follow one or more of these MACH principles, you’ll achieve more success if it follows a pure MACH approach. Building on a MACH architecture enables you to choose best-of-breed solutions that suit your needs. That way, you can get to market faster without getting weighed down by the complexities of a rigid all-in-one platform.

Read more: What Is MACH architecture?

Benefits of MACH Architecture

  • Business-centric best of breed technologies: Enterprises want to deliver quality websites and applications as fast as possible. MACH gives enterprises more control over their technology stack by selecting scalable API-first solutions that suit your needs.

  • Modularity and simplicity: The MACH concept helps enterprises select the best API-first and headless solutions. Thanks to its modular architecture, businesses can scale their application or integrate with any other services available without facing the complexity of all-in-one suite solutions. 

  • Open and extensible ecosystem: One of the most important characteristics of adopting MACH is its extensibility. With MACH architecture, you can easily integrate with other applications, thus creating an open ecosystem that is fully scalable. This gives you the agility to meet any market demands and enable omnichannel content delivery to any device or platform.

  • Better developer and marketer experience: With your application decoupled from the backend, developers can create HTML pages that are highly optimized and visually appealing. MACH allows developers to select their preferred tools while taking advantage of the increased power that comes with an ideal stack. Similarly, marketers can focus extensively on improving content experiences and setting up marketing campaigns with their favorite tools and technologies.

  • Enhanced security: The coupling of all services in a single centralized hub, as it is with monolithic DXPs, can have very detrimental effects if not careful. One single failure in a component can cause a cascading effect that leaves your entire architecture dead in the water. Having a composable architecture gives you confidence that a failed component will not affect your entire system.

  • Future-proof platform for further innovation: Since you can cherry-pick the best solutions for your needs, you can tailor your final applications to help you deliver what your customers expect while meeting the needs of the business. You'll also ensure that the UX is the same regardless of what end-point your application will be served on.

Jamstack Explained

Jamstack is a web development approach that enables faster application development, better performance, and enhanced security and scalability. It includes the use of client-side Javascript, flexible APIs, and Markup, incorporating several of the tools and workflows that developers find most valuable and productive.

In essence, Jamstack stems from static sites and pages that contain quality toolings for every stage of development. However, the stack doesn't require any particular tools beyond HTML. It builds on the basic statically-built HTML websites of old with a modern touch to deliver fast and reliable web experiences.

But it’s crucial to note that even though Jamstack is ideal for static sites, its shortcomings become evident as soon as dynamic features become necessary. Unless you have the proper tools and know-how, rendering dynamic content on Jamstack can be challenging and time-consuming. 

Read more: What Is Jamstack?

Benefits of Jamstack

  • Easy to maintain: Jamstack uses pre-generated sites—delivered via a CDN or host—that do not require a team of experts for maintenance, patching, and updates. 

  • High scalability: There is no complex logic or workflow required for CDNs to serve sites since they control which assets are cached and for how long. Jamstack offers a simple deployment process, built-in redundancy, and an enormous load capacity.

  • Developer experience: Neither proprietary technologies nor obscure frameworks are needed to build Jamstack sites. Rather, you can build them with a number of different tools or conventions.

  • Better performance: A page's loading time directly impacts customer experience, conversion, and retention. Instead of generating pages on the server during requests, Jamstack sites generate them during the build process, thereby enhancing performance.

  • Enhanced security: Jamstack strips away multiple components from the hosting infrastructure and leverages pre-generated assets and pages, thereby reducing the attack surface, since you have fewer servers and systems.  

  • Portability: As pre-generated sites, you can choose from many hosting providers and can easily transfer them to another host, which reduces the risk of infrastructure lock-in.

MACH vs. Jamstack

Modern web development requires faster, modular, and composable approaches. MACH and Jamstack represent the future of modern web development and architecture. Equipping your brand with either technique will ensure a faster time to market and the development of more customer-centric solutions. But there are still a few things to consider. 

While both concepts help organizations deliver robust solutions, they are very different. MACH architecture is a modern concept for identifying the right products to buy and integrate into your tech stack. Having products that align with MACH gives you a highly scalable, modular and future-proof architecture. In contrast, Jamstack is a way to build fast and optimized websites.

Drawbacks of Using Jamstack

Despite their popularity in recent years, many Jamstack sites end up becoming overly complicated. If you intend to build dynamic applications with different languages and technologies, Jamstack isn’t the most suitable option for you. This is also true for companies that lack the API expertise to develop and maintain Jamstack applications. 

Without an experienced Jamstack developer on board, you may face challenges managing or updating the platform, often resulting in higher financial costs and a drop in engagements down the road. 

Read more: Jamstack vs WebEngine: Why a Hybrid CMS is better for your business

Building the Next-Gen Tech Architecture With Zesty.io

For enterprises to remain relevant and competitive, it’s necessary to consider adopting a composable architecture. Embracing composability leads to better customer-centric services, faster time to market, enhanced application security, and greater scalability and innovation. 

Zesty.io supports MACH principles and allows you to build an open ecosystem for your business with best-of-breed technologies. Not only does this improve the developer and marketer experience, but it also future-proofs you so that you can easily adapt to any new technologies yet to come. 

With Zesty.io you can also overcome the drawbacks of Jamstack. As a hybrid headless CMS equipped with an integrated WebEngine that lets you build traditional, headless, and hybrid sites, Zesty.io gives you the agility and scalability to meet your business needs. 

The slimmed-down approach of Jamstack is often unnecessary. Instead, Zesty.io’s WebEngine is another option for dynamic HTML page renderings and content delivery capabilities. With WebEngine, marketers and other non-technical users can build websites without relying on a dedicated IT team. This solution also requires fewer tools than Jamstack, provides better performances, enhances security, and saves hosting and deployment costs. Not to mention, Zesty.io’s CDN with a multi-tenant and multi-site environment ensures better digital experiences.

Cornershop needed to upgrade from their custom tech stack as they expanded across the globe following an acquisition by Uber. They needed a modern system that allowed them to reduce reliance on developers while ensuring a high uptime. With Zesty.io they found the right architectural and site building support they needed. 

Read our case study to find out more about how Cornershop made their global expansion a success. 

Experience a Headless Content Management System, Join Zesty.io.


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Chloe Spilotro photo

Chloe Spilotro

Account Executive, Zesty.io

Hooked onto the platform since first using it through the Zesty.io Incubator Program at the University of San Diego. Passionate about all things marketing, IoT, and helping businesses leverage technology to grow and become major players in their industries.... Learn More

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