Ease of use and no cost put the open source PHP Web scripting language on the map for developers. Now, the scalability and XML and Web services support of recently released PHP 5.0 puts it on the enterprise map, says Doron Gerstel, CEO of Zend Technologies, a PHP technologies services company.
PHP was created in 1997 as an alternative to complex commercial Web scripting languages such as ASP (now a part of Microsoft's ASP.Net). PHP is an HTML-embedded language designed for quickly building dynamic Web pages. Today, use of PHP has surpassed that of ASP, according to Netcraft. PHP was used in 19,720,597 domains and 1,310,181 IP addresses in April, 2005, Netcraft reports.
Gerstel founded Zend in 2000 with PHP architects Andi Gutmans and Zeev Suraski. The company's goal is to commercialize the solutions needed to make the PHP scripting language viable in enterprise environments. In this FYI interview, Gerstel provides a PHP update and overview.
What sets PHP 5 apart from previous releases?
Doron Gerstel: PHP 5 provides to enterprise developers all they need to support the way they develop with the technologies they use. It supports an object-oriented development so no matter what development paradigm is desired, procedural or object-oriented, PHP works. PHP 5 also embraces the latest technologies such as XML and Web services making integration with existing legacy applications and new service oriented architecture applications simple. With support of Web services and XML, PHP 5 is very definitely enterprise-ready.
How does the cost of development and maintenance with PHP compare to other languages?
Gerstel:The reason for the meteoric growth of PHP is that it is so simple to use and enables high productivity quickly. Therefore the cost of development and maintenance is dramatically reduced. We hear from customers often that what would have taken them 3-4 months to develop in Java for instance took them a couple of weeks in PHP. When time-to-market is important, this type of time savings is extremely important.
Gerstel: If the application that is being built is a dynamic Web application then the P is PHP [in the LAMP stack of Linux, Apache, MySQL, and Perl or PHP].
Java is very good for heavy transactional, complex applications. PHP's forte is dynamic Web applications. Zend has many customers using both Java and PHP and with Zend platform.
How much in-house development do corporations do? Don't they mostly try to buy packaged applications?
Gerstel: A lot of custom development is done either in-house or it's outsourced. We see a growing trend of using PHP to build composite applications. Composite applications are applications built to automate a workflow that takes advantage of packaged applications as well as other existing home-grown applications and data sources.
If a company buys packaged applications, then why and when would they use PHP?
Gerstel: Package applications rarely meet the needs of all people in an organization, hence the need to build applets, which makes use of the packaged application. These applets, which can and usually do grow over time, can be written in PHP.
What apps are moving to the Web that once lived inside the enterprise?
Gerstel: Most applications today have moved to the Web because of its ubiquity and ease of use -- CRM, e-mail, groupware, ERP to name a few. For example, SugarCRM is a CRM system that is Web-based and completely built with PHP. Intacct, has an ERP system that is also built with PHP. Major systems are moving to the Web and using PHP.
If I can get PHP free, why do I need Zend?
Gerstel: PHP is a programming language that is used to build applications. Zend provides products and services that make PHP applications industrial strength.
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