Zend and Microsoft smoke out the real cloud devs' tools

Better insights with fewer disruptions, promises head honcho

Clouds in blue sky

Goodness, doesn’t everyone want to show they're a "cloud developer’ company these days? If it’s not migration tools to the cloud for the data centre, then it’s native cloud tools that exist in the cloud, for the cloud and of the cloud.

The trouble is, we’re not quite sure yet that the cloud is fully into overdrive in terms of programming. A host (no pun intended) of vendors are talking about cloud and software programming in the same sentence, but how many of them are showing raw blood and guts?

Cloud developer wannabees

The cloud developer wannabees talk around the subject almost as if they aren’t quite sure themselves. Should we adopt a unified code base for on-premises and cloud as we architect hybrid solutions that straddle both? Should we move on-premises architectures to reflect cloud builds more closely now, or do we get ready for deeper code re-factoring later?

How about identity? That’s a massive change in cloud i.e. everything connects down a pipe and Input/Output parameters will be consequently different too. Storage (and the dynamic allocation of resources) is different in the cloud too; who would have guessed that part?

Given that there is such a huge battle for cloud amongst the cloud behemoths, wouldn’t you hope that the vendors would start detailing the mechanics of the tools in question more clearly at this stage?

These musings come forth in part due to a news morsel emanating this week from Zend and Microsoft. The two firms are snuggling up on a partnership to attempt to change cloud developer productivity via Zend’s Z-Ray technology with Microsoft’s Azure App Service.

An in-browser toolbar, not a plugin

So what is it, really? Z-Ray is an in-browser toolbar that displays all the under-the-hood details of a page request, across all the PHP scripts (Zend’s most favourite thing) involved in building the page. This is supposed to provide insight into PHP-based applications such as WordPress, Drupal, Magento and Joomla. But Z-Ray is not a browser plugin, so it's completely browser-independent.

“We are excited that Microsoft selected our innovative Z-Ray technology as a key differentiator to their cloud offering," said Andi Gutmans, CEO & co-founder of Zend.

Outside of the press-friendly backslapping statements, Gutmans told The Register that cloud developers will see Z-Ray “injected into the response” coming from a PHP app and shown right in the browser that is being used for development. “You get vastly greater insight without changing your development workflow,” he said.

Microsoft is still pledging commitment to the new open source version of itself. “We are focused on delivering the best developer experience in the cloud for PHP developers as well as anyone who builds apps using Java, .NET, node.js, Python and other popular open source frameworks,” said Bill Staples, corp veep for app services, Microsoft Azure.

“Z-Ray is a key addition to our App Service offering and our work with Zend also demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the open source community," chipped in Staples. So if Z-Ray for Azure is a PHP productivity technology thing fully integrated with Azure App Service, is it a real cloud development tool? It can be turned on (or off) with the flip of a switch, so that’s quite cloud isn’t it? Z-Ray inherently supports mobile and API development with its Z-Ray Live! Technology, so that’s pretty cloud-centric too.

The "pluggability" factor

With cloud platform adoption now at a tipping point for programmers not sure what speed they will drive new cloud apps towards the data centre, factors like architectural "pluggability" (which facilitates customisability and extensibility) will be crucial.

Productivity is important too and that’s what Zend has hung the flags out for here. Did cloud development just get any easier? Maybe not, but it does get better workflow clarity with this kind of product – and that’s as near as dammit right, ain’t it? ®


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017