Zend Enhances Z-Ray, Intros New Patterns for Docker, Puppet, Bamboo

Zend Technologies this week unveiled new and enhanced components that will be part of the next version (8) of its PHP-based Web and mobile application platform, Zend Server, including new versions of Z-Ray and integrations with Docker, Puppet, and Bamboo.

Zend introduced Z-Ray in July with Zend Server 7, billing it as a kind of app performance X-ray that provides developers with real-time, in-context visibility into the workings of their applications. Z-Ray has become something of a cornerstone of the company's "shift left" strategy, which allows for testing and validation sooner in the software lifecycle. Zend Server 8, which will be generally available in December, comes with a new version of Z-Ray that has been extended to include specific detailed data for several common applications and frameworks. These include e-commerce platform Magento, the WordPress blogging tool and a content management system, the Drupal open-source content management platform, the SymfonyPHP framework, the IBM i environment and the Zend Framework.

According to the company, this version of Z-Ray is also highly extensible, which means devs can add new functionality to display their preferred data.

Zend Server 8 will also include Z-Ray Live!, a new version that expands the tool's capabilities to include mobile and web services API debugging. As the company explains it, this version "provides the visibility of Z-Ray for requests coming from mobile and web services API calls, letting developers see into the server-side execution of mobile app requests."

Another new feature, URL Insight, make it possible for Z-Ray to identify the worst performing web pages in an application and provide insight into the cause.

With this release, Zend is also extending its "Continuous Delivery ecosystem" with new patterns for the open-source Dockercontainer platform, the Puppetconfiguration management system, and the Bamboo continuous integration (CI) server from Atlassian.

These patterns are part of the company's Blueprint for Continuous Delivery, which Zend introduced in 2013. The Blueprints codify best practices for each step of the software delivery cycle and organize them into a single, iterative process.

The Docker pattern (formally "Zend Pattern for Infrastructure Management with Docker") allows developers to assemble applications from components, eliminating conflict between development, QA, and production environments, the company says. "Zend Pattern for Infrastructure Automation with Puppet" allows devs to automate the provisioning of physical and virtual machines, early-stage code development, testing, production release, and updates. "Zend Pattern for Continuous Integration with Bamboo" makes it possible to automate the testing of code packaging and deployment onto infrastructure that should be identical to production, each time new code is generated or at specific intervals.

Zend considers Continuous Delivery to be an enterprise "must have," due largely to the advance of mobile and cloud, both of which demand faster-than-ever software development and delivery.

"In this day and age, if you can't deliver in a very incremental way, get feedback from your users, and then adjust what you're building, you're not going to be competitive," said Andi Gutmans during his morning keynote at the annual Zendcon PHP developers conference in Santa Clara, CA.

Zend Server already works with such DevOps tools as Jenkins and Chef to implement Continuous Delivery best practices for developing and running PHP applications. But Continuous Delivery is about more than the technology, Gutmans said.

"It's also about bringing people and processes together and making sure that you have an end-to-end DevOps environment that's really working," he said.

Zend even argues that Continuous Delivery it's changing the app lifecycle into "a single, streamlined, iterative flow." Zend's latest "Developer Pulse" survey of more than 4,000 devs seems to support that notion. Ninety-seven percent of respondents to that survey who have not adopted Continuous Delivery practices reported experiencing "issues" around deploying application changes to production. Seventy-nine percent of those respondents also reported that their developers spend 25 percent or more of their time on problem resolution rather than developing new functionalities, the company said.

"What we saw in that survey is that there's still a huge amount of friction in the ecosystem," Gutmans said. "It shows that people are spending almost as much time fixing problems as they are innovating and delivering value to the business. We took that to heart and asked ourselves, what could we do to change the game. You're seeing the answer to that question in Zend Server 8."

Conference attendees were given the opportunity to purchase two Z-Ray licenses, which normally cost $240 each, for $2.40. Zend has also made Z-Ray available on the Amazon marketplace for purchase at an hourly use rate.

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].