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Zend has announced a cloud for building and deploying PHP apps on other clouds – but without the management hassle.

The PHP specialist has announced phpcloud.com, which it said was a technology platform and a partner ecosystem based on the company's Zend Framework and Server.

Details are vague, but the technology platform consists of Zend App Fabric and Zend Developer Cloud.

The App Fabric uses the Zend Framework – a library of loosely coupled PHP components – with Zend's PHP stack and management and diagnostics tools.

Zend said App Fabric's capabilities include caching, job queuing, high availability, code tracing, support and hot fixes.

The Developer Cloud, also based on the Zend Framework, is a PHP development environment that comes with Zend's application web server plus PHP extensions.

The cloud is "tightly integrated" with Zend's own Studio, the company said, although it would also work with Eclipse PHP Developer Tools and other PHP tools.

Zend's Developer Cloud debuted with the beta release of the latest update to its PHP development environment, Zend Studio 9.

According to the company, Developer Cloud will provide you with a free, sand-boxed environment for building your PHP applications.

Also released was a beta of Zend Framework 2.0.

Zend Framework 2.0 includes a new version of the SimpleCloud API, with the ability to manipulate cloud server instances on Amazon EC2 and on Rackspace; support for Microsoft's Windows Azure and GoGrid infrastructure-as-a-service is planned in a future release. SimpleCloud API is the project name under which Zend is to port PHP apps between various providers' clouds. It was announced by Zend in 2009 and is backed by Microsoft, IBM, Rackspace, Nirvanix and GoGrid.

PHP is one of the staple languages of the web, used by five million developers. Among those programming in PHP are web darlings Zynga as well as Drupal and Facebook.

Zuckerburg's social network actually re-wrote PHP early last year, creating create HipHop to squeeze out more speed from its web pages without bolting on more hardware at the server-farm side. HipHop turned dynamic PHP code into highly optimized but static C++ and compiled it using the GNU C++ compiler, g++.

The emphasis of Zend's PHP thrust appears to be to maintain PHP's ascendancy by freeing devs from needing to manage the deployment of their apps to the cloud or worry about on-going administration. Zend does not appear to be offering - say - its own platform-as-a-service for that'll host your PHP apps and could see Zend going into potential competition against services using PHP.

As such, it seems, there's been some integration between the core Zend elements of its new cloud – the Framework and Server, which is a web application server – and other people's clouds.

Zend said on the phpcloud site: "All applications are housed within a container on the Zend Application Fabric. This container is separate from all other containers and has its own database instance and is easily connected to your IDE."

The company claimed apps will deploy to "any" cloud, but listed Amazon's CloudFormation sample templates, Rackspace, Rightscale and IBM's SmartCloud. ®

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