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Zend PHP server gains better clustered deployment and scaling traits

As PHP finds wider use, teams must vault the development-to-deployment gap. Zend's latest rev addresses such issues.

Showcase Web application integrations are always changing at startups Netflix and Facebook. Their agility has come to the attention of leaders at other businesses, and is beginning to influence development at long established enterprises.

The business-side's rush to Web application integrations has led to a surge in use of PHP for rapid application development. It has also led to a need for auto-scaling and a call for improved management of PHP applications, which can entail considerable deployment scripting.

The trend is reflected in a new version of Zend Server from dynamic PHP language pioneer Zend Technologies.  Zend Server 5.5 adds deployment and IT automation features so development teams' handiwork fits better with operations teams' objectives. With today's integration servers, people need to develop more quickly, while monitoring operations effectively and maintaining quality.

''The expectations of the business owner are going up, at the same time people are trying to do more with less,'' said Andi Gutman, Co-Founder and CEO, Zend.  "This drives use of dynamic languages, but it also puts a lot of pressure on both Agile development teams and the applications.'' The push to cloud computing and mobile development further intensifies the trend.

Auto-scaling elements of the new PHP server build on earlier work Zend did with cloud management platform maker RightScale. Also, new predefined settings, roll-back-and-recover capabilities and real-time alerts are expected to improve deployment outcomes and better support continuous integration of clustered PHP servers.

"The biggest challenge is keeping the deployment process organized. It's been manual. It's been an error prone process,'' said Kent Mitchell, Director of Product Management at Zend. ''We have been looking at that problem. Now we have the ability to more readily identify errors and roll back when needed.''

While (relatively) light-weight PHP servers have made in-roads versus fuller-featured J EE application integration servers in some Web applications, the PHP servers' component manageability may have lagged. Enhancements such as those seen in Zend 5.5 can better position the PHP alternative for placement in the enterprise data center.

Moreover, the server enhancements point the way to better Platform as a Service (PaaS) cloud computing deployments, an apparently emerging issue for more development teams. RightScale and Zend are automating cloud application deployment and in effect creating a PaaS via a RightScale Zend PHP Solution Pack.

''Today you appeal to developers a lot whenever you have capabilities that support and manage applications and application deployments – ones that bring a more elastic capability to deploy servers on-demand with programmable APIs,'' said Al Hilwa, Analylst, IDC.

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