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      Executive Insights

      Bloomreach’s Road to the MACH Alliance

      By Xun Wang

      Nov 07, 2022

      16 min read

      Executive Insights

      Bloomreach’s Road to the MACH Alliance

      Today marks another exciting milestone for Bloomreach — we are now a part of the MACH Alliance. 

      The MACH Alliance is a group of independent tech companies advocating for open, best-of-breed technology ecosystems. The Alliance aims to educate and support the industry as a whole on what to look out for when moving from legacy infrastructure to a composable architecture. It is a vendor-neutral institution that provides resources, education, and guidance through industry experts to support companies on their journey. 

      To join the MACH Alliance, a company has to meet a strict set of criteria that defines it as modern technology. At a high level, this means being: microservices-based, API-first, cloud-native SaaS, and headless. Undoubtedly, we believe this criteria defines the future of all commerce technology. As MACH Alliance president Casper Rasmussen noted, “We see Bloomreach's MACH Alliance certification as being indicative of a market that is shifting to composable, best-of-breed technology strategies.” 

      Our road to MACH certification began 24 months ago, and it's given us the unique opportunity to evaluate each aspect of our technology — from newer products to ones that have been around for a while — through the lens of today’s commerce landscape. With that evaluation complete, we’re proud to now meet MACH standards, and to demonstrate our full commitment to the headless future. As part of that commitment, our go-to-market focus will be focused on our MACH-compliant offerings, and new Bloomreach customers will only be offered our SaaS-based products. This is the best solution for composable commerce

      Knowing what that can help our customers to achieve, we’re proud to be amongst the other MACH Alliance members leading the charge to encourage businesses everywhere to adopt this type of modern technology.

      What does MACH stand for?

      • Microservices: Individual pieces of business functionality that are independently developed, deployed, and managed.
      • API-first: All functionality is exposed through an API, making it possible to tie together two or more applications or services.
      • Cloud-native SaaS: Software-as-a-Service that leverages the full capabilities of the cloud, beyond storage and hosting, including elastic scaling of highly available resources. Functionality is updated automatically, eliminating the need for upgrade management.
      • Headless: The front-end user experience is completely decoupled from the back-end logic, allowing for complete design freedom in creating the user interface and for connecting to other channels and devices (i.e. existing applications, IoT, A/R, Vending Machines, sensors, etc.)

      What’s Composable Commerce and Why Does it Matter?

      Composable commerce allows digital commerce companies to select best-of-breed solutions and use them to satisfy unique business needs. Instead of using a one-size-fits-all e-commerce functionality — the kind offered by legacy, monolithic platforms — composable commerce allows companies to leverage modern technologies across the board, assembling the perfect combination of technology solutions to adapt to today’s marketplace. 

      The basic functions of composable commerce include: 

      • Business centricity — Empower business users to make changes to digital strategy rather than relying heavily on IT. 
      • Modular architecture — Support more agile delivery, faster time to market, and better experiences across every customer touchpoint. 
      • Open ecosystem — Using accelerators, third-party applications, and pre-composed solutions, brands can be empowered to assemble best-of-breed solutions. 

      The customization and agility offered by composable commerce are particularly significant today, when e-commerce has hit an inflection point. After the unprecedented digital adoption driven by the pandemic, businesses are now asking themselves an important question: our consumers have all come online, but how do we keep them here? What’s more, how do we convince them to choose us over our competitors?

      The answer, as we believe at Bloomreach, is personalization. E-commerce alone is no longer enough to impress customers. They expect a digital journey that seamlessly spans multiple channels, all while offering an experience tailored specifically to their needs. 

      And if a business wants to deliver this type of journey, they need a powerful ecosystem of technology behind them — different tools and solutions that allow them to meet the unique needs of their customers. They need the freedom to build that ecosystem in the way that makes most sense for them, to add and remove parts as their needs evolve. They need composable commerce. 

      Our customer MKM Building Supplies is an incredible example of this architecture at work. 

      Founded nearly 30 years ago, MKM is the largest independent builders’ merchant in the United Kingdom. While MKM continues to outperform the market with its unique and customer-focused business model, its team felt an immense amount of pressure to modernize the digital experience it offered to its customers, taking a B2C approach to commerce like many B2B-focused businesses have begun to do. 

      With composable commerce, they’ve been able to do just that — adopting all three solutions in the Bloomreach Commerce Experience Cloud: Engagement, Discovery, and Content — and connecting them to a new and improved website built with Vue Storefront (front end) and BigCommerce (commerce platform). Three critical solutions, each playing a specific role in allowing MKM to deliver the type of digital experience their customers need.

      That’s the type of commerce environment we want to help all of our customers achieve. And our inclusion in the MACH Alliance certifies we can. 

      From PaaS to SaaS: Our Journey Toward MACH Compliance

      At Bloomreach, we strongly believe cloud-based composable architecture is the future of commerce — and most industries. The underlying MACH principles allow us to deliver faster innovation for our customers, better availability, and the ability for businesses to easily grow their commerce ecosystem as their technology needs evolve. These architecture and development principles ultimately provide our customers with more value.

      In order to receive MACH certification, we conducted a rigorous review of every aspect of our technology. Operating a SaaS business requires complete ownership of the software we provide to our customers. We are responsible for operating and running our service, providing scalability, reliability, and maintaining security. We must do this at massive scale — ensuring our customers a consistent experience and the most up-to-date versions and features through regular high quality deployments with no downtime. 

      To enable this innovation at scale, it is necessary to adopt standard practices in operating SaaS-based systems, including the standards set out by the MACH Alliance. While many aspects of our Bloomreach products were designed and developed natively with these practices, we’ve spent the past few years thoroughly reviewing our technology and adapting it to embrace the cloud, APIs, headless, composability, and with a microservices paradigm. This put us in a strong position as we later sought entry into the MACH Alliance, which is an important stamp of approval in showing our commitment to the future of composable technology. 

      One area that required particular attention during our technology review was our content management offering. Our Content solution, previously known as Bloomreach Experience Manager or brXM, is a private cloud solution, also referred to as PaaS — platform as a service.  The team spent two years rewriting this software offering to align with MACH principles.

      To embrace the microservices paradigm, we had to refactor our codebase and decompose our modules into smaller services. We defined strongly versioned interfaces, and decoupled the data layer. We leveraged container technology and orchestrated services on Kubernetes. We codified our deployment using infrastructure as code principles and added additional end to end testing environments enabling deployment velocity of every two weeks into the production. We integrated API gateway technologies like Gloo and GraphQL to solidify our APIs. We worked closely with the AWS team to deploy our services in the cloud on EKS and RDS, leveraging public cloud’s scalability and reliability. We centralized monitoring using SysDig, and leveraged Cloudflare as a high performance caching layer in front of our APIs. This focus on headless required the definition of a new set of APIs and data structures to handle delivery of Content and Page structure. This was particularly a challenge to be able to allow business users to utilize no-code WYSIWYG user interface to make modifications to site structure/content while reflecting the changes into the new headless APIs for front-ends to consume. 

      Ultimately, from this effort a new product was born: a MACH compliant content management solution that allowed us to operate the service on behalf of our customers: Bloomreach Content SaaS. As we consider the larger vision of content management at Bloomreach, particularly within the world of commerce, we’re fully committed to the headless future as we develop this product and roll out new capabilities to our SaaS customers. We do still have customers utilizing our brXM solution and we will continue to provide support for them. Going forward, we are excited to offer our new customers our SaaS-based, MACH compliant products. This is the best solution for composable commerce, and we know that’s where our customers are heading. 

      What Bloomreach Brings to MACH Alliance

      Bloomreach offers a number of differentiated benefits that make us a valuable new member of the MACH Alliance. 

      One of the simplest: we are the first solution in the MACH Alliance that offers a customer data platform and marketing automation. These are critical tools in the digital ecosystem of any business, and now, we’re ensuring that businesses can easily introduce data-driven, personalized marketing technology into their tech stack to help drive even greater business results. 

      This leads to another key benefit Bloomreach offers: all of our solutions are specifically built to enable digital commerce growth, offering business-oriented UIs that allow digital teams to view and action critical customer and product data across the customer journey. Essentially, we’re built for the marketers, CRM managers, merchandisers, and traders that use our tools on a daily basis. As a MACH certified company, we’re ensuring our solutions meet the needs of developers as well, marrying efficient technology integration with maximized business ROI.  

      And ultimately, this points to an overarching benefit that really reinforces why we’re so aligned with the principles of the MACH Alliance: we are a multi-product company, but unlike larger legacy platforms, we are composable. From our customer data and marketing automation solution to our AI-driven product discovery to our headless CMS, we make it simple for businesses to select and integrate the solutions that work for them. With Bloomreach (alongside any other composable solution), businesses can build a composable commerce environment that allows them to remain agile as their business grows and their customers evolve.

      What’s Next?

      The MACH Alliance mission is to future-proof enterprise technology, propeling current and future digital experiences with open and connected enterprise tech. This is exactly what we aim to deliver here at Bloomreach, as the success of MKM I noted earlier certainly demonstrates. 

      Bloomreach technology has always been at the forefront of innovation in commerce experience, and now we’ve got an industry certification to prove it. 

      We offer our customers incredible opportunities for growth and flexibility. Wherever market trends and customer patterns may take them, businesses utilizing composable commerce will be ready to adapt — fast — ensuring they’re always delivering magical experiences that drive measurable results. And Bloomreach — along with countless other best-of-breed solutions within the MACH Alliance — will be here to help them do it. 

      If you’re interested in learning more about Bloomreach joining the MACH Alliance, check out our press release.

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      Xun Wang

      Chief Technology Officer at Bloomreach

      Xun leads Bloomreach’s global engineering and operations team.  He is a veteran engineering executive with over 15 years of experience leading engineering teams. Xun is passionate about technology, complex engineering challenges, and building world-class teams.  In the consumer space, he led the team that created the world’s highest quality cloud gaming platform: Geforce Now. In the enterprise space, he led the team that built Medallia’s cloud platform. Xun holds a Computer Engineering degree from the University of Waterloo.

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