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2/5/2009
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IBM, Zend Putting PHP On System I Mini Platform

The move exemplifies PHP's growing role as the Java or business language of Web applications.

Zend Technologies on Thursday said it has teamed up with IBM to port Zend's PHP parsing engine to IBM's System i hardware.

The move supports the PHP scripting language for a new class of scripting-language users in small businesses and the Fortune 500.

The move exemplifies PHP's growing role as the Java or business language of Web applications. Java itself plays a business logic role in many Web applications, as does Microsoft's C#. But PHP is outstripping both when it comes to user-oriented interactions with Web applications. IBM's Series i servers are the former AS/400s, computers with a database built into the operating system. With PHP, the System i is a strong candidate to store and serve business data on the Web.

The process of delivering Zend technologies to the Series i servers has been under way for three years, with 12,000 Series i users already making use of PHP. "The enthusiasm for -- and utilization of -- Zend PHP has exceeded our expectations," said Scott Handy, VP of worldwide strategy for IBM Power systems, in the announcement.

That demand prompted IBM to announce today that it's bundling Zend's Web software stack, Zend Core, with the System i's operating system so every buyer gets it, said Jim Dillard, Zend's IBM alliance manager, in an interview. Zend Core includes Zend's latest distribution of open source PHP, database connectors, and the PHP parsing engine. Zend charges an annual $2,000 subscription for the use of Zend Core on the System i, with gold-level support.

These customers also may go to the Zend Web site and download Zend Studio, an open source, integrated development environment for PHP that runs under Linux and Windows. Applications developed with Zend Studio will run on iSeries servers with the addition of Zend Core.

IBM iSeries customers also may download the i5 edition of Zend Studio for Eclipse, which lets developers target the System i platform and directly make use of some of its special features. Downloaders need an iServer serial number to obtain a key for the download. Developers working on the Series i program primarily in RPG, the language developed for the predecessor IBM System 36, System 38, and AS/400 minicomputers.

In addition to the open source code available, Zend wants PHP on the Series i platform for the opportunity to sell Zend Platform, which is an application server in which to run PHP applications under development or in production, Dillard said. No pricing was available.

The IBM commitment to bundle Zend Core with each Series i server gives IBM customers the opportunity to run a large library of open source PHP applications, develop their own applications in PHP, or convert existing RPG applications with PHP front ends. It also allows Series i users to draw on the large pool of PHP programmers, estimated by Zend at 5 million.

Series i users, for example, gain the option of running SugarCRM, the open source customer-relationship management application written in PHP, or Drupal open source content management.

Andi Gutmans, Zend's co-founder and CTO who was named CEO on Tuesday, said in today's announcement that Series i customers' ability to use PHP meant that they could "Web-enable green-screen applications and build new Web-based applications, extending the long life of this power platform." Dillard said IBM customers who run instances of Linux on their mainframes also have asked for PHP support but Zend has no immediate plans to move to that platform as well.

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