Zend’s PHP to be Preloaded Onto IBM i OS
February 3, 2009 Alex Woodie
Every shipment of IBM i OS 6.1 and i5/OS V5R4 now include a fully functional version of Zend Technology‘s Zend Core PHP environment, the companies will announce later this week. The move will make it easier for System i customers to get the popular PHP development tool, which has already been downloaded by System i customers more than 12,000 times. It also comes with basic maintenance and support from the Silicon Valley software company.
While Zend Core for System i was already a free download from Zend’s Web site, officials with the companies felt that this was a hindrance for a certain segment of the population.
“There are some companies that don’t want to go through the process of downloading it, burning it on a CD or DVD, walking or shipping the CD over to the production environment, and having it installed,” says Jim Dillard, the IBM alliance manager for Zend, in an interview with IT Jungle. “This way if you’re ordering a new box, you can just load the image, or if you upgrade, then you can do the same thing. So it makes it very easy for people to install Zend Core for i5/OS on the system.”
Customers will still need to install Zend Core for IBM i onto their System i (or, more likely, Power Systems server). As a preloaded product for i 6.1 and i5/OS V5R4, Zend Core is now shipped with the operating system and upgrades. But it is not pre-installed onto the computer.
Preloading Zend Core with IBM i should result in a broader adoption of the product, predicts Brad Cottell, director of corporate communications for Zend.
“Over the last three years, a lot of early adopters wanted to Web-enable their applications. And with this new agreement with IBM, its’ really just broadening out to a much more mainstreamed audience,” he says. “Customers who traditionally might not have even considered it, now say ‘Wow, it’s built into the OS. Maybe I’ll keep the seats.’ People are thinking about Web-enabling their green screens. ‘I want to get in on that.'”
According to the IBM announcement letter that went out last week, Zend Core delivers a PHP runtime environment for IBM i that includes the Zend Toolkit for integration with i OS applications and DB2 data. It also includes the Zend Framework and one year of Silver support from Zend, which includes Web-based support, hot fixes, and product updates.
Zend Core is sufficient to develop and run PHP applications on the IBM i OS. System i shops that need more sophisticated development and integration tools, or a better support package from Zend, will be pointed to other Zend products, including Zend Studio, which provides an integrated development environment, and Zend Platform, which provides advanced monitoring and performance optimization, as well as the new 5250 Bridge for integrating with existing System i applications, and the Java Bridge. Zend also offers Gold and Platinum support packages.
Preloading Zend Core onto i OS provides a logical extension of the direction the partnership between IBM and Zend has been going since 2004. “IBM, as we know, tries to serve themselves,” Dillard says. “But they did a great job in this instance of serving their community. If you go back to 2004 and 2005, you have a lot people saying ‘IBM bring PHP.’
“So instead of people going to PHP.net and trying to do a half-ass job [installing it on the AS/400], IBM decided to collaborate with Zend and bring PHP over. Remember, first it supported just V5R4. Then, when both IBM and Zend realized that a lot of people on i5/OS V5R3 would love this, both of our companies collaborated to make this available on 5.3. It’s also supported on V6R1. And when V7R1 comes out, it will be compatible with that as well.”
In the announcement slated for release later this week, Zend showcases the PHP experience of one particular System i shop, a manufacturer called the APi Group. The company was looking to upgrade its green-screen ERP system, and was told by one major ERP vendor that it would cost tens of millions of dollars and take three years to migrate to its system.
Then APi Group’s programmers started looking at whether PHP could satisfy the same requirements, but without the huge cost. As it turned out, it did.
“Rather than move to a brand-name ERP system implementation estimated to cost eight-plus figures and take three years to implement, we were able to significantly reduce our risk, stay on IBM Power Systems platforms, and completely modernize our applications using Zend Solutions for PHP,” says John Horner, IBM Power Systems programming manager at APi Group. “We completed this project at one-tenth the cost and in only 18 months.”
The APi Group won the i5/OS Innovation Challenge award last year for its work with PHP.