Zend And BCD Get A Little Closer For PHP
April 1, 2015 Alex Woodie
Zend Technologies and BCD have been working together for about three years to help IBM i shops adopt PHP for developing new applications. Under a new partnership agreement unveiled recently, Zend will be referring customers to BCD for custom PHP-on-IBM i development work. But that’s not all the two vendors have up their respective sleeves.
After analyzing the existing relationship between Zend and BCD, executives with the companies realized that a regular reseller model was not going to cut it, says Jeff Lovette, vice president of global sales and channels for Quadrant Software, which acquired BCD last year.
“What we realized is having the two big players in the IBM i PHP space come together is pretty powerful in terms of the offerings we can now give to our customers base and future customers,” Lovette tells IT Jungle.
Under the expanded agreement, BCD will become a preferred provider for PHP development on the IBM i platform. While Zend is free to make other partnerships, it’s clear that the companies view their relationship strategically.
“We picked BCD as a partner because they provide world-class IBM i Web application development services and support,” says Zend president Stu Schmidt in a press release. “We see BCD as a key strategic partner who will help modernization efforts and PHP in general on IBM i grow and prosper while providing tremendous value to our IBM i clients.”
The type of development work that BCD will provide runs the gamut. “It could be anything from just generating a small PHP application on the i, to a full out enterprise Web-based application that could be extended to handheld devices, to updating their website from an order-management perspective,” Lovette says. “There’s a slew of different things that we could do.”
In addition to Zend offering BCD’s professional services for PHP on IBM i development work, BCD plans to bundle Zend’s flagship PHP runtime for IBM i, called Zend Server Enterprise, with WebSmart PHP, its flagship development tool for PHP on IBM i development. BCD is planning to make that announcement in the coming weeks after pricing has been nailed down, Quadrant CEO Steve Woodard tells IT Jungle.
While both BCD and Zend consider PHP on IBM i as a success story, adoption of the open source language on IBM‘s proprietary midrange box hasn’t been without its bumps. BCD hopes that its services offerings, along with its WebSmart PHP development tool, will help smooth them over.
“We do see a learning curve, a technical gap,” says Lovette, who joined Quadrant three years as part of its SoftBase acquisition. “Coming from RPG to PHP is a night-and-day type of approach. It’s totally different from what they’re used to.”
BCD is aiming to close that technical gap with a combination of consulting services, training, and power tools. “If they can get a few applications out, or at least understand the basics of PHP, then our professional services can take care of the rest, if they’re not willing to go out and hire a staff of PHP developers,” Lovette says.
Alternatively, for those shops that are investing in PHP for the long term, the company offers its WebSmart PHP development tools. “These IBM i shops that are RPG shops–they’re not going out and hiring 10 PHP developers to do this. They’re trying to do this within house with their current development staff,” Lovette says. “To convert an [RPG] programmer over to using PHP, they’ve got to have an IDE that’s user friendly and helps them develop code in a matter that they’re going to understand.”
Besides referrals and product bundles, there is also some product integration work taking place between Zend’s headquarters in Cupertino and BCD’s home base in Chicago. The work revolves around the Z-Ray debug tool, which Zend says is basically like an “X-ray machine for your PHP code.” “We’re in the process of an integration between WebSmart PHP and Z-Ray,” says Woodard, who works out of Quadrant’s world headquarters in Boston.
Editor’s Note: This article was corrected. Jeff Lovette is vice president of global sales and channels, not vice president of global sales and marketing. IT Jungle regrets the error.