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Zend Brings PHP to The Enterprise

Hot on the heals of the official release of PHP5 last week, Zend Technologies, the corporate backer of the open source scripting language, has launched the latest versions of its flagship Zend Studio and Zend Performance Suite products.

The latest tools are part of the company's goals and role in the evolution of the open source scripting language, with a focus on enterprise grade development tools.

"The whole idea of PHP 5 and the Zend platform that is on top of it is to make it enterprise ready," Zend's CEO, Doron Gerstel, told internetnews.com. Gerstel explained that, while PHP is the language with which Zend is deeply involved, Zend is also providing an enterprise platform for PHP.

"It's a promising starting point to take it to the next level, the PHP proliferation at this point is the language and of course the Zend Engine is part of it," Gerstel said. "It is not just what we consider to be horizontal expansion, where we have more and more sites, but vertical as well, who is using it and to what extent."

Gerstel said he sees PHP and Zend as competitors to Microsoft's ASP.net scripting language. At a time when some enterprises are mulling whether to upgrade to newer Windows platforms, or even others such as Linux, the company is positioning the Zend tools as alternative, interoperable programming tools as well.

"PHP is going more and more into places where Microsoft is traditionally very strong, like departmental applications inside enterprises," said Andi Gutmans, a PHP and Zend co-founder.

Gutmans surmised that though PHP from a server point of view is still more prevalent on Unix/Linux servers, Windows still dominates many desktops and Zend Studio offer developers a very powerful remote debugging capability.

A core component of Zend's strategy to expand PHP as a platform is its new Zend Studio 3.5 enterprise-grade integrated development environment (IDE) . In addition to advanced PHP 5.0 support, the new Zend PHP development IDE sports a new look and numerous improvements including an updated debugger, code analyzer, code templates, code completion and highlighting tools.

"The interesting thing is that although I believe the majority of PHP deployments are done on UNIX/Linux, Windows is the most common platform for Zend Studio users with over 80 percent," Gutmans said.

Zend's new Performance Suite 4.0 is also looking to ease one of the most common pain points for Web developers, namely application performance and security. Enterprise developers running business critical applications are always looking to increase performance and availability while at the same time keeping hardware costs down. Zend Performance Suite 4.0 targets that with a combination of file compression, content caching and code acceleration in order to improve PHP application performance for business critical environments.

The new data caching API is intended to cut down on processing time by reducing the number of queries made to the server by caching query results.

The Performance Suite also includes the new Zend Download Server, which bypasses the straight-forward method of simply using an Apache Web Server process which inevitably consumes Apache resources and slows multiple concurrent downloads.

A new API in Download Server helps to secure downloadable content by only allowing it to be served after the user has been validated properly.

"Zend Download Server solves one of the biggest problems with Apache," Gutmans explained. Basically what's happening "is that the Zend Download Server is serving thousands of downloads concurrently in a very efficient way and Apache is going to be freed up completely to do what it's best at, which is running PHP scripts for running your business logic."

As part of a string of announcements Monday, Zend, which had been headquartered in Israel, said it has officially set itself up in the heart of Silicon Valley, Cupertino California, and has raised $8 million in Series C venture funding.