RealTime IT News

IBM Pushes Open Source and PHP

IBM is handing over more than 30 of its open source projects to the popular SourceForge.net repository, officials announced Friday.

The Armonk, N.Y., company also announced a partnership with Zend Technologies to integrate its database into PHP .

Officials said that while IBM hosts a lot of open source projects from its developerWorks site, the company's continued presence isn't an essential part of what makes the site so popular, said Bernard Spang, director of database marketing within IBM's software group.

"The core value that we deliver with our developerWorks is around educating and skills-building for developers and connecting the developer community with the emerging and established technologies that we support in our products," he said. "It's not critical that we have the Web site hosting the open source projects."

Java projects on the site include Jikes, the company's just-in-time compiler; UDDI4J, a Java class library that provides an API to interact with a UDDI directory; and BlueHoc, a Bluetooth simulator. All projects are licensed under either the GPL , BSD license or IBM's Common Public License.

Colin Bodell, CTO of VA Software, the parent company of the Open Source Technology Group (OSTG), said that a number of the projects are already live on the site, with the balance to go up on the site Monday. OSTG includes SourceForge.net.

"We're thrilled that IBM selected SourceForge.net as the home for these projects. It further reinforces the position of SourceForge.net as the leading site for open source developers around the world," he said.

Meanwhile, the Zend Core for IBM is a project to create more enterprise interest for the PHP programming language. According to IBM, PHP-based Web applications make up 70 percent of the programs created for the Apache Web server platform and 40 percent of the Web programming language market.

As such, IBM wants to integrate its database platform -- its embedded Cloudscape and enterprise-grade DB2 Universal Database -- with the Zend product line to create an out-of-the-box PHP development and production environment. The technology will be based on PHP 5, the latest version of the open-source language that incorporates support for Web services, as well as additional support for XML.

The product itself has a native PHP driver to the embedded database and DB2 database. He said the significance is in the single API through that driver to the databases.

The open source community will have the benefit of the open source PHP run-time and Apache Derby. The enterprise community will have the mission-critical support of Zend products and IBM's Cloudscape.

Officials plan to offer Zend Core for IBM as a free download from the developerWorks Web site, as well as the DB2 and Cloudscape product sites, in the second quarter; Zend will provide updates and support for the commercial product.

IBM is also launching a developerWorks site catering to PHP programmers, with technical articles, tutorials and forums.

There are some who might think the move to interoperate more with PHP developers is a sign IBM is trying to distance itself from Java and the Java Community Process (JCP). The JCP has Web application technology of its own, most notably Java Server Pages and Struts.

Sun Microsystems , the Java shepherd, and IBM have traded verbal spars in the past over open source technology. Last year, IBM called on Sun to release Java to the open source community; in January, Sun said that if IBM was really concerned about open source and interoperability, it would port its software to the Solaris x86 platform.

Spang said its partnership with Zend in no way reduces its commitment to Java or the JCP. Stephen O'Grady, an analyst with research firm Red Monk, agrees, saying there is a tremendous population of scripters using PHP because it is more suited to particular tasks.

"I think that what IBM is doing here -- and I think it's certainly a good move on their part -- is trying to take some other pieces and bolster the tools that the scripting population has available to it," he said. "[The announcement] is best described as a diversification and a move, simply, to offer developers a choice."

While the company may want to have Java open sourced and gets frustrated with the pace of the JCP, O'Grady continued, speculation that Friday's news is IBM's departure from Java is making too much of the announcement.

"IBM's commitment to Java is not trivial; it's really imbued in just about everything they do on the server side," he said. "I think reading into this -- that this is a de-emphasis of Java -- is really an overstatement."