Zend, Oracle move ahead on PHP development

Zend Technologies and Oracle on Monday will release a beta version of a product linking Oracle’s database to PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) programming, which is becoming a prominent alternative or supplement to the Java and .Net application development paradigms.

PHP serves as a platform for developing Web applications and Web services, Zend said.

Zend Core for Oracle, which is Zend’s PHP environment that integrates with Oracle databases, will be available as a free download from the Oracle Technology Network and the Zend Web site.

“It’s a tested PHP [product] that bundles the Oracle libraries and it provides our customers an out-of-the-box experience with PHP and Oracle,” said Andy Gutmans, co-founder and vice president of technology at Zend.

“Within three minutes [developers] can get up and running as far as developing Web applications, Gutmans said.

The final production version is due in late September. It also will be a free offering, with Zend to sell supplemental support services and tools

As part of the popular open source LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl/PHP Python) stack, PHP has caught the eye of not only Oracle but also IBM, which is linking its databases to Zend’s environment.

Zend acknowledges that Java is better suited for more heavy-duty transactional applications such as banking systems than what could be done with PHP. But PHP could provide a front end for these applications.

Included in Zend Core for Oracle is an OCI8 (Oracle Call Interface) driver (the number 8 has remained from when Oracle was on Version 8 of its database). The driver provides the C code-level API for working with the Oracle API. PHP is written in C code, according to Oracle.

Despite the recent buzz over PHP, Evans Data said early this month that the number of developers using PHP, Perl, and Python had declined during the last year in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

But Zend remains skeptical. “We saw that report as well, and several other industry analysts said they don’t believe the material and the data in that report,” said Mike Pinette, vice president of business development at Zend.

“Certainly our experience as makers of PHP is such that we’re not seeing the drop-off,” with revenues doubling, he said.

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