Zend Server 6 for IBM i Goes GA
April 16, 2013 Alex Woodie
Zend Technologies is now shipping Zend Server 6 for IBM i, the newest version of its PHP stack for IBM i environments. As expected, version 6 introduces new ways for IT teams to resolve problems with PHP applications, and works with the mobile interface generation capabilities in Zend Studio 10. The company also introduced new packaging for its IBM i PHP products, delivered a new Web services framework for Zend Server, and launched a new Mobile Smart Start program.
The core capabilities that Zend delivered with Zend Server 6 for IBM i and Zend Studio 10 haven’t changed since we first told you about them back in February, when the company announced the availability of these products on Windows and Linux.
The key deliverable with Studio 10 is the capability to generate interfaces for the latest mobile devices running iOS, Android, and Windows 8. Together with the newly introduced support for PhoneGap in version 11, Zend Studio customers can now, with a single development effort, create mobile apps for the above devices, and make them available for download through Apple‘s iTunes Store and Google‘s Play Store, Microsoft‘s Windows Store.
Zend Server 6 for IBM i, meanwhile, brings several new features aimed at helping development and operations teams work together more effectively, including automated deployment scripts, and the capability for developers to monitor production applications in “read only” mode, thereby boosting the usefulness of Zend’s code-tracing functionality.
Another new feature in Zend Server 6 for IBM i is something called the Zend Server Gateway, which basically Web service-enables critical Zend Server functions, such as routing, authentication, validation, and filtering, via RPC or REST APIs, according to Zend’s vice president of worldwide field operations Siddhartha Agarwal, who briefed IT Jungle on the new software during the COMMON conference last week in Austin, Texas.
“We made the entire Zend Server API enabled,” Agarwal said. “Zend Server Gateway is sort of a micro framework on top of Zend Framework that enables the rapid connection of these backend API services and the front end, so that we’re able to easily connect them. There’s a lot of work that goes into taking a front-end request and a backend service and connecting them. So now, a developer doesn’t have to think about that. It’s drag and drop.”
Zend is encouraging customers who are interested in developing mobile interfaces to adopt the APIs because it can simplify development of additional Web interfaces down the road, Agarwal says. “Picking mobile first actually helps them a lot, because it helps them think of the APIs that can be exposed for the business logic that’s back there,” he says.
If this all sounds too complicated, perhaps the new Mobile Smart Start is for you. The Mobile Smart Start is a two-week services engagement with Zend trainers and technicians. The first week is spent certifying the customer’s PHP environment and training customers, and the second week is spent working with the customer to developing their first mobile app.
“We take the first six months of pounding your head against the wall, and compress it down to two weeks,” said Mike Pavlak, Zend’s resident IBM i guru, who presented several PHP sessions at the COMMON show last week. “It really helps them move quickly through the adoption phase.”
Zend Server 6 for IBM i also includes the latest open source toolkit, and the latest release of the open source MySQL database, which Zend distributes under the name Zend DBi. Zend is currently distributing MySQL version 5.159 in Zend DBi.
Zend is working with its MySQL support partner, Percona, to evaluate supporting more current releases of MySQL, including versions 5.5 and 5.6, on the IBM i platform. But the company is unable to provide a timeframe as to when these releases might make it into DBi.
The other big piece of news with Zend Server 6 for IBM i is the introduction of new packaging. Zend has traditionally shipped two versions of its runtime: the Zend Server for IBM i Community Edition (CE), which is free and shipped by IBM with all copies of IBM i, and the full Zend Server for IBM i product, which was not free and which contains advanced functions like code-tracing and faster technical support.
Instead of two options, there are now three. Zend has changed the name of the CE product to Zend Server for IBM i Basic Edition. This is the product that IBM distributes with its IBM i OS media. The full Zend Server for IBM i version has been split into Zend Server for IBM i Professional Edition and Zend Server for IBM i Enterprise Edition, which is the same way Zend packages its PHP stack for the open systems world.
The new Professional Edition offers most of the features that are in the Enterprise Edition. The big difference is that Zend promises customers support within six hours with the Professional Edition, whereas Enterprise Edition customers can expect support within two hours. Basic edition customers can expect to wait up to two days for support. See Zend’s edition comparison chart for more differences.
This article was corrected. Zend has shipped version 10 of its Zend Studio, not version 11. IT Jungle regrets the error.