Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mobile is Cloud and Cloud is Mobile

There is no arguing that the world has turned mobile. I believe that it is time for application developers to adopt a mobile-first mentality. In this post I’m going to outline what I believe that means, and how Zend intends to help developers and companies make mobile first a reality.

A mobile first approach is essential as mobile devices (including tablets) are quickly becoming the most popular access point for online interactions. A mobile-first mindset focuses on delivering a strong contextual and personalized experience. It embraces touch,  puts the user experience at the center and sets apps up to reach 100% of the mobile audience.

One of the most critical design principles of mobile first is that context is essential to today’s application development. In today’s mobile-first era, consumers, employees and partners want to take action in real time and base their decisions on the best actionable personalized information. Businesses want to engage customers in real time, because companies know that their ability to influence behavior increases significantly if they can meet their users in context. That context may include location, social graph, user profile and many other data points. For example, offers for a mortgage or car loan are most effective when delivered to a consumer at the exact point they are house or car shopping.

API-centric cloud services architecture

We believe the best architecture to support a mobile first paradigm is a REST/JSON-based, API-centric cloud services approach. The brain of the application sits on the server side and pulls together a variety of data sources which build the context and personalization for the app. PHP is ideally suited for this, as it has strong interoperability into existing enterprise systems and social platforms. PHP is also highly productive, and enables the agile development approach required to deliver iterative application value – a key requirement for user-centric development.

Cloud as the delivery vehicle

In mobile-first architectures, the cloud becomes the preferred delivery vehicle. The unpredictability of scale and latency in the mobile world require application platforms that can scale up and scale down on demand. In addition, the user-driven and iterative design approach of a mobile-first paradigm puts increased pressure on organizations to implement agile operations that enable them to frequently and incrementally deploy updated mobile apps. Cloud automation and application platforms best enable agile delivery and operations. Finally, contextual applications will access an increasing amount of SaaS applications and social platforms. The need for the integration of a variety of public cloud services will drive the runtime platforms into the cloud. We already see this trend emerging with cloud-based offerings by a variety of integration players.

UI logic moves to the client

On the front end, the experience needs to be tailored to the mobile device’s form factor and its native interaction paradigm. To enable a great user experience, the UI logic needs to move from the server side to the client side. The client-side UI logic focuses on delivering the right interaction paradigm while communicating with the server side for data access and processing via REST/JSON calls.

Mobile drives adoption of cloud

Mobile and cloud are increasingly interlinked and co-dependent. Market-wise, looking at the IT vendor landscape, there are companies that have made great progress in enabling mobile client development solutions; others have made significant progress in enabling the delivery of cloud services at scale. I believe many are making the mistake of seeing cloud and mobile as separate and their strategies reflect that. Others get that the two should work together, but these companies are too big to truly deliver a holistic solution; in such organizations, artificial org chart boundaries exist between end user computing and data center groups.
At Zend, we believe mobile and cloud are so interdependent that vendors who address one and not the other leave their customers short. We are stepping up to the challenge and are delivering on an end-to-end solution to make it easier to build these next generation cloud-connected mobile applications.
Zend’s solution to building cloud-connected mobile applications spans from client to cloud. Some of the key elements include:
-          Easy drag and drop creation of cloud services
-          An open cloud application platform that enables deployment to any cloud
-          Strong Web standards-based client-side tooling

Easy drag and drop creation of cloud services

In Zend Studio, we enable customers to visually assemble cloud services (a.k.a. APIs). The visual tooling is built on Zend Server Gateway, an API gateway. Zend Server Gateway is lightweight, enables authentication, filtering and validation, and a variety of other capabilities. We are investing in Zend Server Gateway to continue to round out its capabilities and ensure it is an easy and flexible way to build and deliver cloud services. Zend Studio also enables the connecting of these cloud services to the client- side UI in a very easy manner (see more below).

An open cloud application platform that enables deployment to any cloud

As mentioned earlier, the scalability and agility benefits of cloud make it the most appropriate back end delivery vehicle for a mobile-first strategy. Zend Server is pre-integrated with a variety of clouds including Amazon, RackSspace, VMware, IBM, Red Hat OpenShift and others. And we intend to continue to add additional support clouds, including Windows Azure and Google.

These cloud integrations enable one-click launch of our elastic PHP Cloud application platform. In order to meet the latency, scale and SLA requirements of cloud-connected mobile apps, Zend Server delivers fault tolerance, performance management, monitoring and alerting, and high performance. We also enable effective communication between development and operations departments via role-based access and automation, fostering a strong, agile, collaborative environment.

Strong Web standards-based client-side tooling

At Zend, we believe that open Web standards will end up dominating the client side. While today Objective-C on iOS and Java on Android are the norm, there is no doubt that HTML5 & JavaScript will unify mobile application development, just like they unified Web development for the desktop. There is much innovation going on around HTML5 and mobile devices, including significant investments in performance. So while it may not seem so today, it is only a matter of time before Web technologies will be in the lead. As a result, we have fully embraced HTML5 & JavaScript, and have deepened our commitment to these technologies in Zend Studio, our professional PHP IDE.

We have also integrated Apache Cordova (a.k.a. Phonegap) into our tooling experience. This will enable our customers to leverage open web standards technologies to build applications that have access to native device capabilities, such as the camera on a variety of OSs, including iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Applications packaged with Apache Cordova can also be distributed through the app stores. Therefore, you get all the distribution model benefits while being able to easily target multiple devices with your in-house Web developers.

What you see is what you get. Tooling saves time by giving you the ability to quickly put together mobile prototypes that may have taken days to develop manually. The visual drag and drop tooling generates standard HTML5 and jQuery Mobile, so the output can easily be understood and modified by all Web developers.

Developers can easily test their mobile applications using the provided Web mobile emulator. Integration with Android Development Toolkit (ADT), xCode (iOS) and Visual Studio (Windows Phone) enables a native emulator or target device experience, accessible directly from the Zend Studio IDE.

In summary, Zend is committed to supporting your entrance into the new era of contextual applications, where mobile is cloud and cloud is mobile. We believe we have a unique capability to deliver a complete, highly productive, yet enterprise-proven solution to address the requirements of building and running business-critical, cloud-connected mobile applications. And we do this without locking you into any specific cloud or mobile device. Sound too good to be true? Give it a try!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Red Hat and Zend Partner to Enable Enterprise PHP on Red Hat OpenShift PaaS

I’m pleased to share that Red Hat and Zend today announced a partnership and the immediate availability of Zend Server for Red Hat OpenShift. With this partnership Red Hat and Zend are joining forces to support professional PHP Cloud developers. A developer can now spin up a gear of Zend Server on the OpenShift platform as a service and instantly get access to a full ready to go enterprise class development environment. Even better, we’ve integrated this PHP platform as a service offering with Zend Studio, our industry leading IDE – meaning that a developer can deploy their app directly from Zend Studio to OpenShift in a few simple clicks.

Red Hat knows what it takes to make open-source software Enterprise-ready. They have shown leadership by taking open-source technologies like Linux and KVM and invested in productizing and supporting those technologies to make them not just viable but a strong alternative for Enterprise customers. With the acquisition of JBoss, Red Hat also entered the application development space. I believe through that experience Red Hat has learned that truly enabling Enterprise app development requires not just a basic runtime but much more. It requires productive and high quality workflows that span the application lifecycle, strong development tools & frameworks and industrial-strength runtimes that include strong management capabilities, performance, scalability, reliability and support.

Zend Server & Zend Studio bring to OpenShift PHP what JBoss brings to Openshift Java - an Enterprise-grade, end-to-end solution for building, deploying and managing business-critical applications. Or in other words – PHP done right for businesses. Even better, while Zend brings to the table a streamlined, industrial-strength way of doing PHP, Red Hat’s OpenShift streamlines a lot of additional application development requirements. For example, on OpenShift it is easy for developers to instantly get up and running with a Zend Server based environment in conjunction with the ability to instantaneously add additional components to their environment such as a MySQL or MongoDB server. It is the opportunity to focus the developers’ time on writing and debugging code as opposed to maintaining the development environment – which we at Zend make even more productive by providing great debugging tools and productivity enhancers as part of our Red Hat integration.

With this partnership we are extending the deployment options for our customer base. Red Hat OpenShift has unique capabilities which we believe many of our customers will find beneficial. With Red Hat’s public statement of intent to also bring Red Hat OpenShift to private Cloud we will see even greater opportunity for this partnership given both Zend & Red Hat will both deliver a consistent environment and management capabilities for deployment of apps across private and public cloud.

In two weeks from now we kick off ZendCon, our annual. Red Hat OpenShift is a major sponsor of the conference and will also be running a Hackathon at the conference. Zend also has a lot more news coming out at ZendCon around development of mobile apps and the next generation of our cloud management platform - much of it will also benefit the Zend solution on Red Hat OpenShift. So stay tuned and if you don’t have your passes yet then be sure to get them asap!

Happy PHPing!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Zend Framework 2 Released! Modular, Modern, Stellar!


In 2005 we announced the Zend Framework project. A great framework was the missing link in moving PHP from departmental to strategic Enterprise adoption. We had already delivered on the other necessary Enterprise requirements incl. broad database support, strong OO, XML and Web Services in PHP 5 and standard tooling via the Eclipse eco-system.

By delivering best-in-class best practices through a powerful application framework we knew we’d enable companies to scale-out their PHP development practices and as a result adopt PHP strategically, company-wide. To ensure we were on parity in maturity and completeness with other major solutions e.g. ASP.net we also ensured Zend Framework was fully integrated into our IDE(Zend Studio) and supported within our app server (Zend Server). In addition we build out certification, training and consulting services to support companies who were adopting Zend Framework.

Most important our goal was not to do this on our own. In order to be successful we knew we had to unlock the knowledge captured within the PHP community and our Enterprise partners e.g. IBM. As a result prior to announcement we recruited a variety of companies and independent software developers to help support Zend Framework out of the gate. Over the years the number of contributors to Zend Framework has exploded, and there’s no doubt that Zend Framework would not have become what it is today without the great group of contributors we have.

Zend Framework 1 was amazingly successful. Hundreds of thousands of companies are using it to build business-critical applications incl. some of the largest companies in the world. In fact it was so successful that people see Zend Framework synonymous to Zend even though we were originally best known for having created the Zend Engine (the kernel of PHP).

On the back of this great success, 2.5 years ago we chartered the Zend Framework team – under Matthew Weier O’Phinney’s leadership – to build out the next generation of Zend Framework. The charter was clear – leverage the successes, the learnings, advances in PHP 5.3 and new Web development patterns and team with the community to build the best Web application framework on the market. While our preference was to ease migration for Zend Framework 1 users we also agreed that we would break what needs breaking, in order to ensure we don’t deliver anything less than a modern A+ framework.

Today I am proud to announce that the Zend Framework community has released the much awaited GA version of Zend Framework 2. We are confident this is going to be a step function for the Web community and better enable the development of modern Web applications. The advances in Zend Framework 2 are too numerous to list but I am especially excited about its modularity, extensibility and fast growing group of contributors.

As a company we are all-in on Zend Framework 2 and plan to fully support it via our app server, IDE and service offerings. We also see additional opportunities to leverage Zend Framework 2 in supporting the creation of modern Cloud and Mobile apps and services but more on that in the coming months. One of the major themes at this year’s ZendCon will be Zend Framework 2 and we will have many opportunities for people to get up to speed with it. So do not miss this event!

I’d like to share my gratitude to everyone who has contributed to making this effort a reality with code, documentation, tools or by popularizing the project. This includes both our own internal Zend Framework team and the hundreds of community contributors. Thank you!

Now let’s build some modern Web apps!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

VMware + Zend Partnership: Goodbye Virtualization; Welcome Enterprise Cloud

In recent years popular opinion suggested that the private cloud delivered more immediate cloud monetization opportunities as opposed to the public cloud which would take more time. Instead we’ve witnessed faster adoption of public clouds with Amazon and Rackspace leading the pack. While the private cloud opportunity is huge there has been slow migration to private cloud due to difficulties in implementation and enterprise priorities.

The majority of Zend’s enterprise customers have virtualized their on-premise workloads, however, very few have true self-serve, elastic private clouds. What makes a virtualized environment a private cloud versus plain old virtualization? I am sure everyone has a different definition. My own definition includes the following requirements:

a) Self-service environments that automate both infrastructure and application provisioning.

b) Out-of-the-box application lifecycle management from development to test to production delivering best practices in a turnkey fashion.

c) Strong application-level management capabilities. The app is what matters most. Can you deploy, monitor, and identify root-cause without having to concern yourself about the underlying infrastructure?

d) Auto-scaling and optimizing your applications’ runtime footprint aka elasticity. Will the environment automatically scale-up and scale-down the app while retaining its integrity and ensuring fault-tolerance?

We designed and built Zend Server, our PHP cloud Application Platform, with these key tenets in mind. We created a fully automated PHP runtime environment that is fast, elastic and dependable. Zend Server automates application deployment, monitoring and root-cause analysis, delivers elasticity in conjunction with fault tolerance and much more. Our vision is to be the de-facto standard enterprise-grade PHP runtime for cloud. We are well on the path to getting there. We have proven integrations with Amazon’s Cloud via Amazon CloudFormation; native support for IBM private and public cloud environments; many clouds via our Rightscale partnership including Rackspace and Citrix; and several additional ones in the pipeline (which we’ll be talking about in the coming months). Our partners share a joint vision with us around cloud application platforms and we are excited to work with them to bring that vision to life.

On that note, I am excited to announce a new partnership with VMware. VMware today is no doubt a proven leader in enterprise virtualization. The company is making a strong effort to enable its virtualized customer base’s transition from virtualization to private cloud. One of the key components to making that transition happen is VMware’s vFabric Application Director product (App Director). App Director delivers a very simple and visual drag and drop approach to defining the application environment as reusable blueprints. We have partnered with VMware to create such blueprints for Zend Server in a way that truly delivers on some of the aforementioned must-have private cloud characteristics including self-serve provisioning, elasticity and application-level management.

vFabric Application Director configuring an elastic, highly available Zend Server environment:


Probably most exciting is that VMware recognizes that the enterprise is heterogeneous and many will have more than one kind of cloud to which they will want to deploy. As a result VMware has built App Director to not only support on-premise VMware environments as well as direct provisioning to VMware based service providers and also non-VMware based clouds such as Amazon. Yes, I believe VMware realizes that in order to be a credible cloud management vendor they need to be open and deliver choice of deployment to enterprise customers.

Now let’s go back to Zend Server. Zend Server does exactly that for PHP. We deliver choice of deployment in the cloud by delivering a consistent enterprise-grade PHP cloud application platform in multiple cloud environments across private and public clouds. Combine VMware’s multi-cloud provisioning and management with Zend Server’s multi-cloud support and a very compelling value-proposition for enterprise application development and operations teams emerges. It’s truly a write once, deploy anywhere application platform that is turnkey, elastic, fault tolerant and managed.

VMware and other Zend partners are making big investments in the private cloud. And while we are still at the beginning of enterprise customers implementing true private clouds we have heard from most of them that it’s where they want to be. It’s an exciting time to be in IT, and to be developing enterprise apps with PHP.

Goodbye virtualization. Welcome cloud!