Thursday, February 19, 2009

Zend Server is here! (almost)

As I alluded in my New Year’s post we’ve been very busy working on a new product line which today we are unveiling as Zend Server. Zend Server is not a Zend Core or Zend Platform derivative (although it uses a small number of those components, mostly enhanced) rather it’s a new approach on how we want to develop, distribute, and service our production products.

The product has been built from the ground-up to enable easy provisioning on servers, all components can be updated which will enable better servicing of PHP and product components, we have created a community edition which includes real goodies like the management UI and Optimizer+ to make it a great runtime environment for developers and non-critical apps, and much more… Most important though, we see it as a way to develop the product much closer to our users and already in the 9+ month beta we have had with hundreds of reviewers (thanks!) we were releasing incremental builds to our users and using forums to make sure feedback reaches the engineers quickly and publicly.

In the past years it has become clear to me that what our users expect is a simple, easy to deploy, and fully integrated Web stack. Getting a solid, consistent Web stack with the necessary functionality to ensure reliability, security and consistency is not a trivial task for most. With Zend Server, one of our key goals is to deliver a low-cost enjoyable solution which ensures users of all skill levels are able to run industrial-strength production environments.

Zend Server delivers value to various types of users including:

- Making a Linux system administrator’s life easy via native package repositories and up-to-date PHP

- The best possible Windows stack supporting IIS and Apache and using native MSIs for installation and software updates

- The database pro with out-of-the-box support for MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, and others

- A great way to run Zend Framework applications reliably and fast

- We deliver the best PHP development package for MAC OS X (Community Edition only)

- Or just a really convenient all-in-one PHP package with a nice administration UI, good performance and a growing community

Of course it also features lots of value-add which is key to production but can also be useful in development including monitoring and root-cause, online security and critical fixes for PHP, Optimizer+ (our acceleration technology), a Java Bridge, easy to use page caching and more… Our Website shows the difference between the two editions. We also already have a good roadmap for the rest of the year to add more value over time.

While I intend to elaborate on the various use-cases and applicable audiences in future posts there is one I do want to briefly mention now - the native Linux support. We have really built this product from the ground up reusing only few assets we had previously in order to ensure the easiest, most reliable out of the box experience. One of the major investments we made was in native rpm/deb support. Not only do we come as an rpm but our whole product is actually structured as a repository with dependencies on OS components (i.e. real use of rpms which very few vendors actually do). This means that we sit on the OS like a glove, very natively and easy to administer and when we send out a software update we can do it for any component in the product and you receive the software update as you’d expect on Linux, not through a proprietary update mechanism but through your standard OS update console. This of course opens up a lot of additional opportunities for using Zend Server including easier provisioning with hosters, with VMs, appliances and other use-cases where standardized provisioning is critical.

In future blog posts I will elaborate on more of these areas helping users get the most advantage out of Zend Server depending on the constituency that they belong to.

It was also extremely important to us to make sure we made a free community based version available. Not only to make it as easy as possible for developers to get up and running with PHP but also to help us drive quality in our offering. Some of our biggest challenges in the past have not been serving production environments but rather the user-experience delivered with our installation, licensing and management. One of our key goals for community edition is to deliver real incremental value to our users while in return we get a broad base of users who help us ensure Zend Server is a smooth experience.

Check out Zend Server at Zend.com.

Also you can sign up at our new Zend Forums, kick the tires, and let us know what you think either via the forum or you can email me directly, andi @ zend! You can download either version during this beta program.

8 comments:

  1. Few questions:

    Will this then replace the Zend Platform?

    Why exactly is the community version "an ideal solution for anyone running non-critical PHP applications in production "? Is it less reliable than the standard PHP release?

    Software updates and hot fixes are not included with the community version, doesn't this mean that the non community version will be changed more frequently ( and thus less stable) than the community version? This is exactly the same problem that MySql's enterprise version has, by pushing fixes into enterprise that haven't had any testing in the more widely used community edition.

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  2. Andi,

    The biggest question on my mind at this point in time, is how will this affect APC? In the past using the Zend stack would conflict with areas such as APC causing all sorts of madness.

    Is there an option to utilize APC in how we would see fit without damaging the platform?

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  3. To answer the question above on "Is this a replacement for Platform?"

    Zend Server is the next generation enterprise-ready PHP Web Application Server designed for critical production PHP applications in single server environments.

    Zend Platform provides high-availability features and central monitoring & management capabilities specifically designed for larger multi-server environments.

    The Zend Server product line will eventually evolve to provide support for multi-server environments but for now Zend will sell and market both product lines.


    To answer the question about Stability and reliability:

    We think both Zend Server and Zend Server CE will be very stable and reliable. Both Zend Server and Zend Server CE start with a release from PHP.net. We then subject our complete stack to a battery of tests to make sure everything works reliably in the complete stack.

    The Hot fixes for Zend Server are designed to enhance stability and reliability by fixing critical bug and security issues in advance of a formal PHP release. This should result in a more stable environment not less stable.

    As for the question about APC,
    we have designed and test Zend Server to make sure that it does work with APC and we allow people to use APC with Zend Server. Obviously we consider our Optimizer+ solution to be superior for many customers but we did not want to lockout people who wanted to use APC.

    Kent Mitchell
    Zend

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