Zend ships Windows-ready PHP

Parity seen between apps deployment on Linux and Microsoft platform

Zend Technologies plans on Tuesday to announce availability of its PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) distribution tuned for deploying PHP applications on Windows.

First detailed in October, with a beta program having begun last month, Zend Core 2.0 offers enhanced Windows performance. Applications will run two to three times faster on Windows with this version of Zend Core, Mark de Visser, Zend chief marketing officer, said.

Zend calls itself "the PHP company" and has built its business around the scripting language. PHP is being used in virtually all modern Web sites, de Visser said. "The reason is because for all these types of highly interactive Web sites, there is nothing like PHP," in terms of productivity and the ability to find PHP developers, he said.

Version 2.0 of Zend Core is intended to provide a unified front for Windows by enabling developers to both build and then deploy their PHP applications on Windows platforms. Oftentimes, developers have written the applications on Windows but then ran them on Linux. Now, Zend's PHP will run equally well on either Windows or Linux, said de Visser.

"We worked with Microsoft to address issues of performance, stability, interaction with Web servers, things like that," de Visser said.

Applications can run on Windows 2000 servers now and on the upcoming "Longhorn" version of Windows when that is ready, said de Visser. In addition to Windows and Linux, Mac OS X deployments also are supported with Zend Core 2.0.

Zend Core 2.0 is the company's first general release of its software for multiple platforms, said Vishwanath Venugopalan, analyst for enterprise software at The 451 Group. Zend is addressing an enterprise need for a supported, certified implementation of PHP, he said.

"PHP is a great open source Web development environment and it's obviously built up a pretty big community," said Venugopalan.

"But most enterprises who use PHP today have to download the open source version of PHP and then have to do some additional work to deploy it in their environment," he added.

Zend, with its ability to build and deploy on Windows, addresses issues of developers having to deal with subtle differences when an application is built on one platform and deployed on another, Venugopalan said.

Also featured in Zend Core 2.0 is Zend Framework, with preconfigured PHP components for building Web applications that perform functions such as database access, Web services interfacing, and search.

"Virtually everybody who uses PHP does it to create Web applications," de Visser said.

Zend Core 2.0 includes what Zend calls universal database support, with preinstalled drivers to access databases from Oracle, IBM, and MySQL. The MySQL 5.0 Community database is bundled with the package.

Future plans call for bolstering Microsoft SQL Server support. Users can run Zend Core with SQL Server now, but with limitations. "It's not what we call enterprise-class yet," de Visser said.

Other features of Zend Core 2.0 include the following:

* Technical improvements offered as part of the 5.2.1 version of PHP.

* Zend Enabler, with improved FastCGI (Common Gateway Interface) for Internet Information Server and support for Windows Vista. FastCGI provides connectivity between PHP and servers.

* Zend Network Updater, which lets users apply bug fixes and security patches as they become available. This will offered for free until May 1.

* A one-stop installation for the full PHP application stack, including the Web server, database extensions and PHP framework.

Although Zend Core 2.0 is free, support is offered with prices starting at $295 per server per year for Web support.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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