Sun, Zend integrate PHP with Sun’s Web

Sun Microsystems Inc. has partnered with Zend Technologies Ltd. in a move to let developers deploy applications written using the PHP scripting language on Sun’s Java Web server, the companies announced Monday.

PHP is an open-source scripting language often used to create “dynamic” Web pages – those that are created or personalized on the fly, such as news and e-commerce sites – and provides a way to pull information from a database or other external source for presentation to end users.

Zend, in Ramat Gan, Israel, oversees the development of PHP and also sells a commercial implementation of the technology. It recently released two products that integrate with version 6.1 of Sun’s Java System Web Server, allowing companies to deploy PHP on Sun’s software. (The Java System Web Server was known previously as the Sun ONE Web Server.)

The two products are the PHP Enabler, which is intended to let PHP programs run smoothly on Sun’s Web server, and the Zend Performance Suite, which uses code acceleration, content caching and other software tricks to improve the performance of PHP on the Sun platform, the companies said.

To date, PHP has been deployed most often on the open-source Apache Web server, but IT executives at large corporations are often wary of using Apache for critical applications because of concerns about security and support issues, according to Brad Young, Zend’s director of product Marketing. Integrating its PHP products with Sun gives them the option to deploy PHP programs on Sun’s Web server, which cautious IT executives may prefer, he said.

Sun and Zend said their partnership aims to address the increased use of PHP among large corporations. In particular, they are targeting financial services and insurance companies, airlines and media Web sites, as well as government customers, they said.

“As we see PHP become more mainstream it’s vital for us to support the technology in the most reliable and high-performance manner. Combined with Zend’s performance suite, we can offer our customers a compelling story,” said Yvette Montiel, strategic marketing manager for Web services at Sun.

Sun hopes that adding support for PHP will attract the approximately 400,000 to 500,000 developers using the technology to its Java platform, she added. Zend, meanwhile, stands to gain from wider distribution of its products.

Netcraft Ltd., a company that tracks server software used on the Web, said in August that scripting languages were enjoying more growth than any other Web technology, as site owners try to make their sites more sophisticated. Today, PHP is the most-used scripting language on the Web, deployed on around a quarter of all domains, according to Netcraft.

Zend is offering a version of the PHP Enabler for Sun’s Web server for free without support. A package including the PHP Enabler, Zend’s Performance Suite and support services is priced starting at US$775 per server, the company said.

Sun and Zend launched an effort earlier this year to bring more scripting languages to Java Web servers. Along with Oracle Corp., Macromedia Inc. and others they began work on a Java specification within Sun’s Java Community process to let PHP and other scripting programs run on servers compliant with the J2EE (Java 2 Enterprise Edition) standard.

“The specification is concerned with how to write and package Java classes that will be accessible from different scripting engines. The Java classes may be part of a servlet application or may be in a standard (Java virtual machine),” according to a description of the specification request, number 223, on The Java Community Process Web site.

The effort should eventually include supporting the Perl and Python languages along with PHP, Zend’s Young said.