Zend Gently Nudges Customers to New PHP Runtime
Published: February 21, 2011
by Alex Woodie
There has been some confusion in the marketplace regarding Zend Technologies and its IBM i offerings. To summarize, Zend is moving away from Zend Core and Zend Platform offerings, and encouraging all IBM i customers to start using the new Zend Server, or at least begin planning the migration, because Zend will stop supporting the Core and Platform runtimes this July.
Zend announced Zend Server 5.0 for Linux and Windows in October 2009, and launched the IBM i version of that product in April 2010. At some point, the Cupertino, California, company announced the end of life for Zend Core and Zend Platform, which for years have been the primary PHP runtimes for Windows, Linux, and IBM i servers.
Zend has already stopped distributing Zend Core for i5/OS, which was free, as well as Linux and Windows versions of the free PHP runtime. And it has (mostly) stopped selling Zend Platform, which was the enterprise-strength version of the PHP runtime that added things like performance optimization and application monitoring capabilities. (The company will still sell a Zend Platform license in special circumstances, it says in its end of life statement. But this probably only relates to Windows and Linux.)
The vendor announced that, as of July 1, it will no longer support Zend Core or Zend Platform on any environment. However, there are some caveats to that as it relates to the agreement it has with IBM, which for years has been distributing copies of Zend Core for i5/OS with the i5/OS and IBM i operating system and paying for its customers to get full year of technical support from Zend. IBM has taken these steps to encourage i5/OS and IBM i shops to adopt PHP for application modernization, and it has worked pretty well, by most accounts.
One of the caveats is this: If an existing IBM i customer has just begun the one year of free technical support from Zend that IBM offers to all customers adopting Zend Core for i5/OS, then Zend will abide by that agreement and continue to support that customer on Zend Core for i5/OS, according to a Zend Server FAQ on the Zend Web site that discusses the options for Zend Core and Zend Platform for i5/OS customers. Similarly, Zend Core for i5/OS customers who are under contract, and who need extra capacity, will be allowed to buy additional licenses up until their support contract runs out. After that, they'll need to upgrade to its replacement, Zend Server (Community Edition) for IBM i.
While Zend will (grudgingly) support the old Zend Core for i5/OS product for the full 12 months for customers who have already started their year of tech support (or sell them extra capacity), Zend says it "strongly recommends" that customers instead move to Zend Server CE for IBM i.
Any new IBM i customers who want to start taking advantage of their free year of tech support from Zend will not be allowed to get support on the old Zend Core product. Instead, they will be required to move to the new Zend Server CE for IBM i product if they want to get support. (Or, they could just use Zend Core for i5/OS, but they won't get support from Zend.)
All IBM i customers, including those in the middle of their free year of tech support, have the option of upgrading from Zend Core for i5/OS to Zend Server CE for IBM i. When IBM i customers get to the end of their one year of free technical support, customers who desire tech support will need to migrate to Zend Server CE or the full Zend Server or IBM i product, which starts at about $5,000 per year on a Power System Model 520.
The Zend Server CE and Zend Server for IBM i products are basically the same product, the only difference being that customers who have upgraded to Zend Server for IBM i get a key that unlocks additional features.
So, why would an IBM i shop want to move to Zend Server, aside from the fact that it's the only way to get technical support? According to Zend and IBM, the Zend Server product family is a big improvement over the Zend Core and Zend Platform products, in a number of ways.
Perhaps the biggest enhancement is the fact that Zend Server for IBM i requires only a single Apache Web application server instance. Thanks to IBM's FastCGI technology, the need to have two Apache instance--one in IBM i and another in AIX accessed via PASE--is eliminated. This boosts performance, and simplifies installation and maintenance, the vendors say.
Customers moving up to the full Zend Server for IBM i product will benefit from other new features, such as integrated code-tracing that enables developers to build faster, more efficient apps; new job queue functions that enable PHP apps to better control the execution of application and maintenance tasks; and new page- and data-caching functions that boosts performance and scalability.
For more information, see http://www.zend.com/en/products/server/zend-server-ibm-i-faq.
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