IBM Bets PHP Is Open Source's Next Big Thing - InformationWeek

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2/24/2005
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IBM Bets PHP Is Open Source's Next Big Thing

IBM is bundling its Cloudscape database with Zend Technologies' scripting language for developing more interactive Web sites.

IBM has teamed up with a little-known open-source scripting language company, Zend Technologies Ltd., in a bet that such an alliance will yield an easier way to build Web sites with dynamic content.

Web sites capable of providing users with personalized content or answering individual browser requests for specific information need to be able to extract the desired information from a database. In the early days of the Web, that meant laborious programming. Zend Technologies' PHP scripting language was designed to help programmers without advanced Java or Microsoft C# expertise build applications that tap into those database services.

PHP got its start as Personal Home Page, an easy-to-learn scripting language for marshalling resources on a Web site. Scripting languages typically tie diverse elements of a site together, even though they may be built with different technologies.

"Initially, PHP was very much a grassroots endeavor. It was used by Web masters that didn't have a computer science degree," notes Pamela Roussos, VP of marketing at Zend Technologies. But that picture has changed. PHP has proven so useful, particularly at aligning database services to Web site application needs, that it has found its way onto many corporate sites. "Lufthansa uses PHP for its E-ticket site," notes David Boloker, chief technology officer for emerging technologies in IBM's Software Group.

IBM will integrate its easy-to-use Cloudscape database system with Zend's PHP. IBM is going to package the open-source version of Cloudscape, which developers embed in Web site systems, with the PHP scripting engine from Zend Technologies. The product will be called Zend Core for IBM and will be available for free download in the second quarter from IBM's DeveloperWorks Web site, a resource site for software developers. It will also be available through IBM's DB2 and Cloudscape Web sites.

IBM donated the Cloudscape source code to the Apache Software Foundation last year and the version of Cloudscape bundled with Zend Core for IBM will be the Apache version, known as Derby. IBM continues to produce commercial products with Cloudscape as well.

"IBM's move is going to attract more enterprise customers," says an ebullient Doron Gerstel, CEO of 68-employee Zend Technologies, an Israeli company. IBM's seal of approval on PHP will do for PHP what it did for Linux eight years ago--make it a dominant open-source technology accepted by commercial business, Gerstel says.

Although IBM will offer Zend Core for IBM for free, the software's code itself will not be open source and will be subject to use restrictions because it will include drivers for IBM's DB2 commercial database system.

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