It may be time to turn out the lights on the LAMP stack.
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Four years ago, LAMP (Linux OS, Apache Web server, MySQL database and Perl, Python and PHP languages) was the open stack of choice, especially for Web servers.
In the early part of the decade, when MySQL started promoting LAMP to boost its own visibility as the M in the stack, the acronym grew in popularity.
Today, however, LAMP is like an illuminated sign with only the A still visible. While the existence of an all-open source application stack remains helpful, there are so many choices beyond the original group that the LAMP acronym has fallen into disuse, analysts say. Even Linux is not sacrosanct, with companies occasionally substituting Windows in an otherwise all-open source stack; the Apache Web server is the only LAMP component whose position remains undisputed, observers say.
"It's never been a specific acronym," said Mark Driver, at research vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc..
"LAMP always represented the idea of an open stack. It shouldn't be taken too literally."
Anne Thomas Manes, vice president and research director of Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group, agreed.
"LAMP stands for completely open source," she said. "And it's simpler, lighter-weight programming than Java or .NET, and it's nice for Web sites."
Indeed, with the P, LAMP's clarity began eroding. Initially, the P stood for Perl, the most popular language for creating Web pages. But it was later joined by PHP, which is easier to write because the program runs inside Web pages rather than on a server. Though PHP has in turn has created an "epidemic of security issues," according to Ed Sawicki, a veteran IT consultant based in Portland, Ore. Now Python is more popular, but programmers use Ruby and LISP, he said.
As for databases, MySQL may be the most popular open source choice, with simplicity and speed in its favor, Sawicki said. Still, Postgres is better at more complex functions; so some companies use both databases, he said.
The Ruby language on the Rails framework is generally safer than PHP and Python, whereas Python is more complex, and typically used by programmers who are aware of potential security pitfalls, she said.
"The beauty of LAMP is that it's an a la carte technology," added Driver. "And it's light years ahead of where it was two years ago."