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Volume 11, Number 20 -- June 7, 2011

Zend Server for IBM i 5.1 Introduces New Toolkit

Updated: June 7, 2011

by Alex Woodie

Zend Technologies recently started shipping Zend Server for IBM i 5.1, a new release of its PHP implementation for IBM's midrange platform. Major new features include the new open source PHP Toolkit for IBM i, which is currently in beta. Other noteworthy additions are a new RESTful API for Web service integration, support for PHP version 5.3, and fixes for the IBMDB2i storage engine for accessing MySQL.

Zend is in the process of rolling out the new open source PHP Toolkit for IBM i, which allows PHP programs to interact with native IBM i services, applications, and data, including making RPG and COBOL program calls, accessing DB2/400 and data queues, utilizing native system APIs, and accessing spool files.

The new toolkit is designed to do a better and more transparent job of connecting PHP applications with IBM i programs and services than the existing toolkit, which was developed by the French company AURA Equipments. Zend says the new toolkit will require less coding to write program calls, performs faster, and offer more functionality than the old toolkit. And by developing it in open source, users will have full visibility into the inner workings of the source code and the capability to make their own modifications if desired, Zend says.

The first public beta of the new PHP Toolkit for IBM i began just prior to the recent COMMON conference in Minneapolis. Until the beta testing is complete, IBM i shops that purchase Zend Server for IBM i version 5.1 will receive a beta of the toolkit. More information on the new toolkit can be found at the following Young i Professionals' Wiki webpage: 174.79.32.155/wiki/XMLService/XMLService.

There is some uncertainty as to what will become of AURA's old toolkit, and whether it will be continue to be distributed in the Zend Server for IBM i package. In an April interview with IT Jungle, AURA Equipments CEO Sylvain Rubele said the relationship was over between AURA and Zend, and that AURA was planning to continue developing and supporting the old toolkit, now called EasyCom for PHP, by itself and on its own terms.

But at COMMON last month, Zend's Mike Pavlak and Michael Scarpato said that a decision had not been made whether to discontinue the AURA toolkit in Zend Server for IBM i. "Andy [Gutman, Zend's CEO] wants customers to have a choice," Pavlak said.

The biggest factor in an IBM i shop's decision to use the old toolkit or the new toolkit is whether they want to use traditional record-level access techniques or SQL, Pavlak says. Many customers are comfortable in the traditional way of doing things, and they should use the AURA product. But those who want to move forward with industry-standard SQL should use the new toolkit, he says.

There's some good stuff in Zend Server for IBM i 5.1 besides the new toolkit. For starters, there's the new RESTful Web API, based on the new industry standard Representational State Transfer standard for integrating applications via web services. According to Zend, the new Zend Server Web API is used for the "automation of the management and deployment of Zend Server, and allows integration with other Zend or third-party software." It was first introduced to Zend Server products with version 5, and is now included with the IBM i distribution with Zend Server for IBM i version 5.1.

The new release also brings bug fixes and better reliability and usability in the Zend Monitor component, especially with large number of recorded events, and improved Zend Job Queue performance and response time, the company says.

An updated Zend Framework and PHP versions 5.2.17 and 5.3.6 are also included. Support for PHP version 5.2 is over, and Zend wants users to move immediately to version 5.3. According to the release notes for PHP version 5.3.6, the new release incorporates more than 60 bug fixes, including some that are security related.

Customers can upgrade to Zend Server for IBM i 5.1 via PTF. However, customers running a beta version of Zend Server for IBM i 5.0 will need to remove the old beta from their systems before upgrading to Zend Server for IBM i 5.1. For more information, see the release notes.


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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Zend Server for IBM i 5.1 Introduces New Toolkit

Visual LANSA Apps Now Deploy to Mobile Devices

Agilysys to Sell Server and Services Biz, Focus on Software

Real Vision Delivers iPad App for IBM i Imaging System

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