Aldon Brings PHP Closer Into Change Management Fold
September 9, 2008 Alex Woodie
Aldon has been bit by the PHP bug. Last week, the developer of application lifecycle management (ALM) software announced that it’s now offering a plug-in for Zend‘s Studio for Eclipse that will allow System i shops and other PHP users the capability to keep track of all of their development in a single, integrated repository. It’s another notch in PHP’s enterprise belt, and further evidence that PHP is making headway in the System i market.
Not all of Aldon’s customers are System i shops. But well over 50 percent are, so when Aldon makes a change or supports a new technology with its flagship Lifecycle Manager offering, it has a strong correlation with where its System i customers currently are in the continuing evolution of their IT and business processes, and most importantly, where they are going.
Therefore, delivering a plug-in for Zend’s Studio for Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE)–and thereby allowing developers to access Aldon’s change and version control functionality from within the Zend IDE–indicates that Aldon’s customers are starting to adopt PHP.
“I can see an increase demand for people looking at PHP,” says Modi Ronen, director of sales engineering at Aldon. “We want to make sure we have a solution for whatever our customers will choose for their modernization strategy.” In addition to using PHP to front-end RPG or other i OS applications, a fair number of Aldon’s customers are starting new PHP projects without ties to legacy systems, Ronen adds.
Aldon already supported PHP with Lifecycle Manager; it can support any languages or object types, Ronen says. But by delivering Lifecycle Manager as a plug-in for the Zend Studio for Eclipse IDE, it minimizes the disruption to the developers, and maximizes their productivity.
“That’s the main pitch from the developer’s perspective,” Ronen says. “They use the IDE they want to use for PHP, concentrate on coding, and do not worry about conflicts, and deploying with different solutions. By linking to Aldon Lifecycle Manager, they get all the benefits, including release management,” which automates the process of moving code to the production machine, as well as keeping configuration files current, he says.
At the same time, Aldon offers tools to managers who oversee software developers, including dashboards that show the extent of development, and reports that track compliance through the development process. “We’re trying to serve both sides–developers that value freedom [of language and IDE], and their managers, who need to have compliance, automation, control, and visibility without interfering with the work the developers are doing,” Ronen says.
PHP being open source, people may first opt for an open source change control solution, the ubiquitous Subversion version control system being the most prevalent. While smaller AS/400 shops that are comfortable with open source tools are more likely to base their change control system on a product like Subversion, there are advantages to using a package like Aldon’s ALM offerings in conjunction with PHP development, especially for companies with enterprise-level change control requirements (not to mention Sarbanes Oxley and CFOs to worry about).
Ronen says there are several drawbacks to using an out-of-the-box implementation of Subversion to manage PHP development. For starters, the software lacks the capability for multiple developers to work together, or to have clearly delineated roles. There’s not as much visibility into who has code checked out, and what code is allowed to be checked out in Subversion, and it’s more difficult for developers to work on multiple branches at the same time. “A lot of that can be done [in Subversion], but you need to develop scripts, or buy a solution that fits on top of Subversion,” he says.
Aldon and Zend are working together to push the new integration of their products. Aldon will be at the ZendCon 2008 user conference in Santa Clara next week. They will also be holding a joint Webinar on October 29. To register for the Webinar see www.aldon.com/events/webcast.aspx?r=24.