Big Blue Builds PHP Platform

In a move to expand its support for open-source technologies, IBM announced a partnership with Zend Technologies yesterday that will integrate Big Blue’s Apache-based Cloudscape database and Zend’s open-source PHP environment. Analysts said the alliance is bound to give both sides competitive advantages.

Under the agreement, Big Blue will work with Zend to create “Zend Core for IBM,” an integrated software solution designed to help developers build and deploy applications and services based on the popular PHP Web language.

“Zend Core for IBM is in line with Zend’s goal of delivering both simplicity and robust functionality to Web-based applications,” said Doron Gerstel, CEO and president of Zend Technologies, Inc., in a statement.

Leveraging Popularity

According to the research firm Netcraft, PHP currently accounts for more than 40 percent of the overall Web scripting language market, and the adoption of PHP technology among both small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and large enterprises is growing steadily.

Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director at the Burton Group, told LinuxInsider that the partnership is a good move for Big Blue, considering its goal of moving into the SMB market.

“PHP is the most popular scripting language for building Web sites,” Manes said. “It’s especially popular among the small to medium sized businesses. Big businesses may use ASP or Java, but the little guys find Java to be way too complicated.”

Dual Support

IBM said the product includes tight integration with IBM Cloudscape database server, DB2 and native support for XML and Web Services — supporting increased adoption of Service Oriented Architectures (SOA).

Janet Perna, general manager of IBM Information Management, said the partnership allows Big Blue to offer its clients a clear path to expand its infrastructure with the broadest selection of open-source information management capabilities in the industry. IBM is the first vendor to support both PHP and Java.

“IBM will continue to work with Zend and the PHP open-source community on future technologies that further the adoption of SOA technologies such as Web services and XML,” Perna said.

IBM said it is also working with Zend to further PHP technology to include improved high-level database integration frameworks and enhanced PHP Web services standards.

Market Implications

The Zend-IBM alliance has major marketplace implications, said Manes, who noted that IBM’s developing might make PHP an even stronger development platform. A possible downside, according to Manes, is that IBM could complicate the issue, but she expects the company to go with the PHP flow that has made Zend so popular.

“There are advantages to having IBM involved,” Manes said. “There are some security issues with sites that have been built with PHP. It’s not a failing of PHP. It’s a failing in the way that developers build applications using PHP. IBM is good at frameworks, so they could possibly build a framework that helps people build more secure sites with PHP.”

Zend Core for IBM will be available in the second quarter of 2005 as a free download via the DB2 and Cloudscape product site and IBM’s developer portal, developerWorks. Additionally, a new PHP technology area will be introduced within IBM developerWorks to assist developers as they adopt PHP and IBM technologies for their applications. IBM is also planning to support Zend Core for IBM with the latest version of Informix Dynamic Server (IDS).

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