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Zend Raises The PHP Platform

The open source PHP language is intensifying its enterprise challenge to Java this week, thanks to a new version of the enterprise class Zend Platform.

Version 3.0 includes performance, monitoring, integration, scalability and intelligence features for the administration of multiple PHP servers across an enterprise. It also now comes in three distinct flavors: Platform PS (performance management), IS (integration server for Java) and ES (enterprise scalability).

Zend co-founder Andi Gutmans told internetnews.com that the PS edition has significant performance enhancements to the acceleration module, making PHP run faster. Zend has also added a new graphical interface for tuning applications.

"Until now users had to go into the configuration files themselves to make sure that the acceleration module is properly tuned."

The caching module has been improved to now support what Gutmans referred to as "the pretty URLs of Web 2.0." Instead of having "file.php?id=" what you get is human readable URLs with slashes.

For scalability, Zend, which was first rolled out in 2005, has improved cluster configuration so users can make changes once and deploy across a cluster. On the integration side, version 3.0 includes an embedded Eclipse BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) run time for business intelligence integration.

Zend Platform 3.0 also includes the ability to do active monitoring with SNMP (Simple Network Monitoring Protocol) traps so that enterprise monitoring applications such as IBM Tivoli and HP OpenView can monitor the platform.

Enterprise deployments tend to go hand in hand with high availability and, as such, Zend has added a mode for high availability that supports session clustering and failover.

Zend Platform 3.0 will also mark the first time that Zend will be supporting the platform for production on Windows. Microsoft and Zend entered into a partnership in October aimed at improving PHP's availability and performance on Windows.

"As part of the Microsoft relationship, there have been lots of enhancements to PHP, Gutmans said. "This is the first time you'll get good production support for PHP on Windows."

Though Zend is focused on the more recent 5.x version of PHP, it isn't about to abandon users of the older PHP 4.x.

"It's important to us to continue to support that user base," Gutmans noted. "Though we are seeing a huge trend to PHP 5 with 70 percent of our customers using it, we still have a sizable user base on PHP 4."

The next version of Zend Platform isn't likely to be version 4.0 but rather a version 3.5. Gutmans classified his expectations for the 3.5 release as not being major or minor but rather something in the middle.