Zend making PHP development easier for Oracle users

Oracle and PHP (PHP: Hypertext Processor) tools maker Zend Technologies on Monday will announce plans to enhance open source PHP development on Oracle databases via a free package called Zend Core for Oracle.

Due in the third quarter, the product will provide integration between the Oracle database and Zend's PHP environment. The offering will be available from the Oracle Technology Network, but Zend will sell related support services.

PHP is building momentum as a development paradigm and possible alternative to Java and Microsoft's .Net, although the technology could be used in mixed application environments. PHP is part of the up-and-coming open source application stack dubbed LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl/PHP/Python).

Zend Core is intended to streamline PHP development on Oracle's database, which otherwise can be complicated, according to Zend Vice President Pamela Roussos. "It can be a very time-consuming, tedious, and error-prone process. What we're doing is we're doing all the work," Roussos said. The Zend Core package enables PHP applications to be up and running with an Oracle database within minutes, she said.

PHP, she said, was designed "from the bottom up to be for the Web." Java, meanwhile, is more suitable for heavy-duty transactional applications whereas .Net is geared specifically toward Windows, she noted.

Zend's relationship with Oracle follows a similar arrangement Zend made recently with IBM, said Stephen O'Grady, a senior analyst at RedMonk. "I think [the Zend-Oracle announcement] certainly continues in that vein," he said.

IBM and Zend in February announced integration between Zend's PHP environment and the IBM Cloudscape and DB2 Universal Database platforms.

Enterprises want PHP to work with enterprise-class databases, O'Grady said. For users of BEA Systems, Oracle, and Sun Microsystems products, development traditionally has been based on Java, O'Grady noted. PHP, however, is faster to develop with and requires less training, although it is perhaps not as scalable as Java, O'Grady said.

"PHP is a very, very different animal than Java. Essentially it's a scripting language rather than a compiled language," O'Grady said.

The version of Zend Core for Oracle shipping in the third quarter will function with Red Hat and Novell Suse Linux variants, Sun Solaris, and 64-bit IBM AIX. A version for Windows XP and Windows 2003 is due in early 2006, according to Zend.

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