Zend Unveils PHP Cloud

Zend Technologies, the creator and commercial maintainer of the PHP dynamic scripting language, announced Tuesday, a new platform and partner ecosystem for development and delivery of PHP-based Web applications.

Zend CEO and co-founder Andi Gutmans, one of the creators of the core PHP scripting engine, laid out his company's case for getting into the cloud business during his keynote presentation at the annual ZendCon PHP user conference, underway this week in Santa Clara, Calif. Application developers are facing three "disruptions," he said: mobile, which requires them to target multiple form factors and user experiences; social, which is now impacting business applications in a big way; and the cloud. What enables these disruptions, and what ties them all together is the Web work load.

"We believe that by leveraging the cloud, we can deliver a much, much better development experience," Gutmans said. "And we think there's an opportunity to deliver in a very innovative and quantum leap in development productivity. Our goal is to deliver the best scale-out production environment that will serve these applications... and to enable you to run those applications on the cloud of your choice."

The new platform combines Zend's Application Fabric with Zend Developer Cloud. The App Fabric is essentially the company's production run time. Built on Zend Server, the company's PHP Web app server, it provides the platform for running PHP apps on public and private cloud infrastructures, and includes auto-scaling capabilities designed to leverage the "cloud's elastic nature" to maintain high availability in the face of "fluctuating and unpredictable demand." Gutmans emphasized the App Fabric's "cross-cloud" portability, which allows developers to deploy to such cloud infrastructures as Amazon Web Services, IBM SmartCloud, Rackspace and Red Hat.

Zend Developer Cloud is the toolset. It comes with code tracing capabilities for real-time bug squashing, a PHP runtime, the Zend Framework and a nascent set of collaboration capabilities designed to make it easy for developers to share source code files, show work in progress to stakeholders and "team up productively on large-scale joint development projects."

"We've built a developer cloud in the public cloud where we think we can deliver a significantly better and more productive developer experience," Gutmans told his audience. "We believe that providing a flexible, integrated development environment that provides real-time feedback on your code gives you a much more productive way to develop, and the cloud enables that."

"In my opinion, the developer cloud is the coolest thing we've done since Zend Framework," Gutmans added. "The developer experience is unique, and most application platform vendors today are really focused on production, and they put some lipstick on that to make it feel like a development environment. They make it feel developer-ish... We think development should stand on its own."

The third component of is the partner ecosystem the company is already developing. Zend's current list of cloud collaborators includes Amazon, IBM, Rackspace, Red Hat and RightScale. The Zend Fabric will be supported on all of their clouds, Gutmans said.

In April, Zend announced a partnership with cloud-management platform provider RightScale to deliver a jointly developed platform-as-a-service (PaaS) architecture for PHP developers. The company's CEO Michael Crandell took the keynote stage at ZendCon and told conference attendees that 37 percent of his customers run PHP, making it the most used language on RightScale on the clouds they support.

"The driver for our partnership was customer demand," he said. The same driver is behind, he added. "Cloud is no longer a fad. It's no longer a trend. It's a requirement for us all."

Zend also announced a preview version of Zend Framework 2.0, the company's enterprise Web application server designed for PHP apps. Version 2.0 will include a new version of SimpleCloud API, which allows users to manipulate cloud server instances on Amazon EC2 and Rackspace. The company promised support for Windows Azure and GoGrid in a future release. Also, the Zend Framework's Model-View-Controller (MVC) layer has been re-architected in this release to improve performance and flexibility. And a new event system enables integration with Zend Framework workflows "and provides flexible workflows in enterprise applications."

Attendees of the seventh annual ZendCon received the first Zend Framework 2.0 preview with their admission, as well as the invitation-only technology preview of


About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].