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Oracle Aligns Itself More Closely With Popular PHP Language

Company integrates PHP scripting engine with its 10g database and application server for building apps based on the open-source development language.
Oracle said this week that it has jointly developed a PHP scripting engine that's integrated with its Oracle 10g database and application server to make it easier for developers to produce applications that draw on Oracle databases.

Dubbed "Zend Core for Oracle," the product is a version of the Zend Engine, a PHP scripting language processor that can be built into applications from Zend Technologies Inc. PHP is an open-source, Englishlike language syntax that can be read and written by Webmasters and site administrators without specialized knowledge of Java or Microsoft's C#. It's widely used across the Web for tying dissimilar elements of a Web site together.

Zend Technologies is a commercial company in Cupertino, Calif., founded eight years ago by the Israeli authors of PHP, Zeev Suraski and Andi Gutman.

"Our partnership with Zend is another sign of our commitment to making Oracle 10g the infrastructure software of choice for developers," says Christophe Job, VP of Oracle application server development.

Oracle is joining several other major vendors in announcing support for PHP. IBM in February said it was bundling a PHP scripting engine with its Cloudscape embeddable database system. The combination of Cloudscape and PHP was intended to make it easy to add database services to a Web application.

But Oracle is already widely used in Web applications. "A significant percentage of Zend's customers are creating applications using Oracle," Zend president Doron Gerstel says. PHP originally stood for Personal Home Page, but it has quickly gained an integrated development environment, Zend Studio, and a following among professional developers. PHP allows elements of a site written in Java, C++, C#, and other languages to work together without specialized calls to each other.

Both Intel and SAP invested in Zend in January through their venture-capital units. No amounts were disclosed. The moves by all four illustrate the extent to which corporate developers have turned to PHP.

There are now an estimated 400,000 to 500,000 developers using PHP, says Shane Caraveo, a senior developer at a Zend rival, ActiveState. ActiveState is a unit of Sophos plc and is a supplier of a competing integrated development environment, Komodo, which works with the PHP, Perl, Python, and Tcl scripting languages.

Netcraft.com, a U.K. company that surveys the Web, found in November 2003 that PHP was in use on 14.5 million Web sites running the Web's ubiquitous Apache Web server. The scripting language has grown in popularity as a means of accessing database resources to make a site responsive to individual visitors. The language's use rivaled or surpassed the use of Microsoft's Active Server Pages in late 2003, Caraveo estimated.

Netcraft has no survey of Web sites running Microsoft's Internet Information Server because IIS doesn't respond to Web crawlers asking about open-source scripting languages.