PHP meets Java

The already considerable momentum of PHP, the widely used, general-purpose, open-source scripter that is fast becoming a kind of de facto Web development language, gets some extra horsepower this week from Sun Microsystems with the integration of a suite of products from Zend Technologies with Sun Java System Web Server 6.1.

Zend is a Web infrastructure software company known as a leading contributor to the development of the core PHP language. The Israel-based company's co-founders, Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski, are the designers of the Zend Engine (the name is a blend of "Zeev" and "Andi"), on which all PHP sites and applications are now run.

Zend and Sun are teaming up to meet what the two companies perceive to be a growing demand among corporate developers for the ability to deploy enterprise-class PHP applications. According to Brad Young, director of product marketing at Zend, Sun and Zend have been working together to enable PHP to run natively within the Sun Java System Web Server platform.

"From Zend's perspective, it was very important to give the PHP development community the capabilities they need and to create interesting opportunities for PHP to grow even further," Young told Programmers Report. "But this relationship also gives us the opportunity to come to market with an organization that gives strong endorsement to where PHP stands today."

"PHP is definitely going mainstream and we want to support that developer community," said Chris Hogan, senior director for Java Web Services at Sun. "Zend has been cultivating the PHP community, and now they are bringing it into a commercial environment and building products that are going to allow that. We have customers who are looking for ways to maximize developer skill sets, and they're now including PHP developers on the Web tier, right along with [developers of] Java, ASP, CGI and Perl."

The PHP support is part of the 6.1 release of the Sun Java System Web Server (formerly known as the SunONE Web Server, which was formerly iPlanet and before that Netscape), which is designed to deliver built-in Web security with high availability for all types of Web applications, Hogan said.

The new product offering includes two components: the PHP Enabler for Sun Java System Web Server, and the Zend Performance Suite for Sun Java System Web Server.

"Working with Sun -- on Java System Web Server, as well as on Java-based standards --helps to extend PHP even further into the enterprise," said Zend co-founder and CTO Suraski in a statement. "And since enterprise users can't compromise on support and performance, we are stepping up to answer the need."

PHP, which is a recursive abbreviation for "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor," has its roots in a simple set of Perl scripts created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1995 as a means of tracking accesses to his online resume. Lerdorf called these scripts PHP/FI, which stood for "Personal Home Page/Forms Interpreter." According to the Web site, Lerdorf eventually wrote a much larger C implementation that was able to communicate with databases and make it possible for users to develop simple, dynamic Web applications. The author later released the source code for PHP/FI and by 1997, PHP/FI 2.0, the second write-up of the C implementation, was developing what has been described as a cult following. Later that same year, Zend founders Gutmans and Suraski, with Lerdorf's cooperation, created PHP 3.0, a complete rewrite that succeeded the 2.0 version.

According to the Internet research company Netcraft, PHP is used by hundreds of thousands of developers and on several million sites around the world.

PHP 4.0 is currently the latest released version of PHP. According to Zend, work has already begun on modifying and improving the Zend Engine to integrate the features that have been designed for PHP 5.0.

The PHP Enabler component for Sun Java System Web Server became available on November 3 for free (without support). A package including full product support plus the Zend Performance Suite and the PHP enabler is priced starting at $775 per server. For more information, see the Zend Web site at


"Product Review: You Zend me" by Jason Halla in the November 2003 issue of ADT

For other Programmers Report articles, please click here.

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at


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