Zend, IBM, and Microsoft Shoot for the Clouds with PHP
September 28, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
If the PHP programming language is to live on in clouds as well as data centers, applications written in PHP are going to have to be able to flow not only between data centers and their internal server stacks (we are apparently calling these private clouds these days) and external utility computing providers (these are now called public or semi-private clouds), but also around different clouds.
To that end, last week Zend Technologies, the commercial entity behind the open source PHP language and runtime environment, teamed up with IBM, Microsoft, and a couple of cloud providers to launch the Simple API Cloud Application Services project, or Simple Cloud API.
The idea that the Simple Cloud API proponents are proposing is simple, and is sure to bring a smile to the face of an AS/400 enthusiast: to virtualize and abstract the various differences in storage and runtime services that different clouds employ so programmers can just talk to a common API that in turn sorts out the differences so the PHP applications just run, whether they are on local hardware or on external clouds like Amazon‘s EC2, Microsoft’s Azure, or Rackspace‘s Cloud Files.
The project intends to create adapters for the Zend PHP runtime environment so it is agnostic about Amazon S3, Azure blobs, Rackspace cloud files, or Nirvanix storage delivery network file services; others will undoubtedly be added, including whatever IBM cooks up for storage services on its CloudBurst clouds. The Simple Cloud API will also include hooks for document services, such as Azure tables or Amazon SimpleDB, and queue services, such as Amazon SQS and Azure queues. All the players in the project have agreed to share code and be friendly.
By the way, if you want to play with PHP on Amazon, Zend has an Amazon Application Image (AMI) out there on EC2 already that exploits the initial Simple Cloud API. This AMI image is based on Zend Server Community Edition. If you want to deploy applications under a support contract, Zend has an AMI with a support contract that you can graduate to, and Amazon is happy to charge you extra for commercial support on your EC2 virtual machines as well.