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Zend offers PHP cure for Java bloat

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"We were working with new units that have never used Resin before," Peer said. "They get so excited because they can look inside it. You don't need these super consultants to come in and tweak it. So many things don't need this Swiss-Army knife approach."

Elsewhere, IHG has picked Terracotta's open-source clustering for Java over Oracle's Coherence to run a booking and reservation system for 4,000 hotels worldwide. The system distributes and caches data so users aren't relying on a single, slow centralized mainframe. Again, for Peer, it was all about access to Terracotta's code combined with the knowledge IHG's developers already had of Java and open source so they could build systems.

"Terracotta fitted better - we could spin up, be tied into a Java Virtual Machine and sync without staying tied to a hub and start a server based on load," Peer said. "A lot of us are geeks, and like to get into the code and like to see what's going on."

I put the example of IHG to Gutmans, who believes PHP has more to offer companies like IHG graduating from Java EE to a lightweight and open-source version of the platform.

While the primary audience for the Zend Servers is PHP programmers building for web-based applications, Gutmans believes PHP has a role in the enterprise thanks to the existence of PHP applications like Drupal and Knowledge Tree for enterprise content management or document management. These projects can run out-of-the-box and be extended using PHP.

"We are seeing a lot of our big customers starting with applications like Drupal, or Magento or Knowledge Tree and they extend from there," he said.

The company's Zend Server Community Edition will run Linux, Windows, and OS X, feature PHP performance improvements, Java connectivity, and a feature a management user interface. Zend Server offers the same along with automatic software updates, hot fixes, and security patches on Linux (native RPM and DEB based repositories) and Microsoft Windows (MSI) under one- and three-year subscriptions starting at $1,195. Hot fixes to PHP will also be made available to the community, but not immediately - with the next release of PHP.

Gutmans believes PHP and Zend can come out of the recession stronger than they did the dot-com bust because of the existence of things like Drupal and that five years' work in and around these application servers.

At the end of the last bust, there was no integration between PHP and Windows, a fact that hurt both PHP and Microsoft because it slowed performance. Today, 50 per cent of PHP is deployed on Windows.

"People are becoming aware of the very good PHP applications that they can download and get going," Gutmans said. "Five years ago, PHP was everywhere but lacked maturity and interoperability to go into mainstream IT... [today] PHP has gone mainstream.

"We are going to see coming out this [recession] the same acceleration for Zend this time around that we saw in the dot-com bust - from more tactical to more strategic adoption." ®

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