Zend targets enterprise PHP with app server, IDE

Latest versions of Zend Platform application server for PHP and Zend Studio for Eclipse now shipping.

Focusing on the enterprise, PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) tools vendor Zend Technologies is now shipping version 3.6 of its Zend Platform application server for PHP as well as Zend Studio for Eclipse, an IDE for PHP based on Eclipse open source technology.

The two products "take [Zend products] to another step toward enterprise-readiness," said Andi Gutmans , Zend co-CTO. PHP, meanwhile, runs around 40 percent of the Web, he said.

Featured in Zend Platform 3.6 are capabilities to monitor HTTP, Apache, and Java events; expanded performance alerts; and better diagnostics through the debugging of production problems on development servers. These improvements are part of Zend Platform's "PHP intelligence" functions for monitoring PHP application performance.

Zend Platform monitors PHP applications in real time, reporting on script errors, database and performance issues, and other matters. Downtime is reduced by recording the full context for reported problems to enable root cause diagnostics and short time to resolution, Zend said.

Also highlighted in version 3.6 are automatic output compression to save bandwidth and enhanced job queues for deferred and offline processing. An improved download server optimizes delivery of large content and media files. Version 3.6 also features expanded options for caching content, with support for file or URL-based caching, client-side caching, and in-memory or disk-based caching, Zend said.

With client-side caching, a user can load a Web page; local cache will maintain that page if it does not change so the page does not need to be reloaded over and over, Gutmans said.

With this release Zend is offering smarter, URL-based caching as an alternative to individual script-based caching, said enterprise software analyst Vishwanath Venugopalan, of The 451 Group. URL-based caching "brings it closer to how an end-user interacts with an application," he said.

This approach is likely to improve application performance, Venugopalan said. With URL-based caching, Web applications leveraging MVC (model view controller) can be cached, Zend said.

Zend Platform also accommodates Java systems, Venugopalan said. PHP and Java are becoming more intertwined, with PHP being used for development and mixing with server-side Java, he said.

"When Java systems are included in a transaction, the Java integration features of Zend Platform will enable capturing both the Java and the PHP side of the story when diagnosing an event," said Venugopalan.

High-availability and tools for cluster configuration and support are improved in version 3.6 as well. Zend Platform can be clustered across an estimated several hundred servers, Gutmans said.

Zend Studio for Eclipse is built on top of the Eclipse PDT (PHP Development Tools) project. Studio improves the quality of PHP applications, speeds development cycles, and simplifies complex projects, Zend said. It features a set of editing, debugging, analysis, and database tools. Agile development processes are supported, such as unit testing, refactoring, and code coverage. Eclipse plug-ins can be accessed for capabilities such as database access and source control.

Zend Studio for Eclipse costs US$399 per developer. A special introductory price of US$299 is in effect for a limited time. Zend Platform subscriptions start at US$1,500 per server.

Both products support the Zend Framework application framework, which has been downloaded more than 3 million times, Gutmans said.

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