Zend Reveals DBi, A New Version of MySQL for IBM i
September 26, 2011 Alex Woodie
IBM i shops that were hesitant to deploy pre-packaged PHP apps on the platform because of the end of MySQL support from Oracle can go forward with their plans now thanks to the public unveiling of Zend DBi, a new IBM i-specific version of MySQL that Zend Technologies will develop, maintain, and support. Zend DBi is slated to ship with the upcoming December release of the Zend PHP software stack for the IBM i server, the company said last week.
Ever since Oracle announced plans to drop MySQL support for i5/OS V5R4 and IBM i 6.1 last December, IBM and Zend have been working to figure out a way to keep the open source database alive on the platform. MySQL is a critical piece of the PHP puzzle, since the majority of pre-packaged PHP applications (such as SugarCRM, Joomla, and Drupal) were designed to use MySQL. Developers writing new PHP apps aren’t affected as much, as they can hit the DB2/400 database directly.
The solution to the problem became evident last week when Zend officials shared details of the forthcoming Zend Server 5.5 for IBM i release, which is expected to become generally available in December. The new PHP stack will contain Zend DBi, which Zend’s IBM alliance director Michael Scarpato calls a “drop in replacement” for the old release of MySQL for IBM i.
Scarpato on Friday outlined for IT Jungle the current state of MySQL on IBM i support and the plans for making Zend DBi the second officially supported database for the platform. “The status quo at the moment is fine. We ship MySQL as part of Zend Server for 5.1. It’s still available from the Oracle website,” he says.
“The question in the minds of folks in the i community who rely on MySQL is, ‘Who’s going to take care of it as it goes forward?’,” Scarpato asked rhetorically. “So as problems emerge in the code, or as security fixes need to be applied, or if there’s some killer new feature that comes out for other platforms that is very relevant for the i platform as well, how do we get that over? Who’s going to take care of that? It’s an open source project. So anybody could do it. But who’s really going to take responsibility to care and feed it, and then make commercial support available for the community who would like it? So that’s going to be Zend.”
The initial release of Zend DBi will be, for all intents and purposes, functionally identical to the last supported MySQL for IBM i release to come out of Oracle, even if the actual code isn’t quite the same. Zend hasn’t finished porting it over, so it’s impossible to say how much the code bases will look alike. But the plan going forward is for Zend DBi to diverge from the last supported version of MySQL from Oracle, Scarpato says.
Any changes that Zend makes will be posted back to the MySQL open source project, as per the terms of the GNU GPL license that both MySQL and Zend DBi are distributed under. However, there are currently no plans to make Zend DBi an open source project in its own right, Scarpato says. No beta releases of Zend DBi are planned.
Zend is putting in a lot of work to port Oracle’s MySQL source code to IBM i, says Allison Butterill, the Power Systems application development offering manager at IBM. “Oracle provides source code on its website, and anybody can download and create binaries, but it’s nowhere close to a trivial task,” she says. “Zend is taking that on and will use that code for MySQL as the base for what they’re going to provide with Zend DBi.”
IBM will continue to develop the IBMDB2i storage engine, which enables PHP applications that use MySQL to actually store data in DB2/400. A new release of the storage engine that works with Zend DBi will be available with Zend Server 5.5 for IBM i in December.
Besides the new database, Zend Server 5.5 for IBM i will also mark the general availability of the new open source XML Toolkit that Zend and IBM have co-developed. The new toolkit, which we first covered in April, was designed to do a better and more transparent job of connecting PHP applications with existing IBM i programs and services. The old toolkit, which was developed by AURA Equipments, will continue to work with Zend Server 5.5, even though it’s not distributed as part of the new PHP stack, Zend’s senior director of product management Kent Mitchell says.
The new IBM i release of Zend Server 5.5 will bring several other enhancements that have been available for Windows and Linux users for several months. Zend says these include new deployment and IT automation features that will help ease the handoff of PHP applications from development to operations teams, as well as new application delivery functions and automated scaling of enterprise PHP applications.
The new stuff–Zend DBi, the XML Toolkit, and Zend Server 5.5 functions–will be discussed in great detail at the forthcoming ZendCon 2011 conference, which is scheduled for October 17 through 20 in Santa Clara, California. Zend has devoted an entire track to PHP on IBM i topics. PHP on IBM i pros who will be presenting at ZendCon include Mike Pavlak, Alan Seiden, Tony Cairns, and Tim Rowe.
For more information on ZendCon 2011, see www.zendcon.com.