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Q&A: Zend CEO talks up latest server releases

Zend continues to push PHP into the enterprise. The upcoming product releases are designed to help make Web applications legitimate alternatives to Java, says Andi Gutmans.

Andi Gutmans, CEO, Zend
Andi Gutmans, CEO, Zend Zend

Zend is widely known as "The PHP Company," and this week, it's announcing new products that further its mission to make PHP the most popular language for building dynamic Web applications.

I spoke with company co-founder and recently appointed CEO Andi Gutmans about the upcoming product launch and the rise of PHP in the enterprise.

Q: What is Zend announcing this week?
Gutmans: We're announcing the general availability of Zend Server and Zend Server CE. We released the beta in February and have been working diligently over the last couple months to put the finishing touches on both products.

Zend Server is an enterprise-ready Web application server for running and managing business-critical PHP applications that require a high level of reliability, performance, and security. Zend Server CE is our first-ever community version of Zend Server that gives developers a complete, simple, and faster way to develop and deploy PHP applications. We're very happy with the end results!

When you start talking about high reliability, security, and performance, it sounds like you're working to disrupt traditional Java environments? Is my hunch correct?
Gutmans: The Java disruption by PHP is well under way.

PHP is everywhere, and Zend's solutions are being used in business-critical deployments by companies such as Tagged, Fiat, BNP Paribas, and Fox Interactive Media, to name a few. The strategic adoption of Zend in larger accounts, often in favor of Java, is related to our strong return on investment and shorter time to market.

The business is growing as a result of the maturation of Zend and the PHP ecosystem, which includes enterprise-grade frameworks such as Zend Framework and standardized tooling such as the Eclipse-based Zend Studio. We've also done a great deal of work with large vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Adobe Systems to successfully interoperate in enterprise environments.

With Zend Server, we're taking this maturity to the next level and addressing the increasing market demand we see for a production environment that can support PHP developers and administrators.

Why did you decide to offer both a commercial and free version of Zend Server? What are you trying to accomplish?
Gutmans: We see two very broadly defined market scenarios: business-critical deployments, in which PHP applications are deployed in environments where an enterprise-ready, high-performance, and commercially supported Zend Server is required; and rapid prototyping, where we want to enable PHP developers and admins with a simple way to get up and running for prototype projects and to run applications that are not business-critical (e.g., a departmental wiki).

Why are you focusing on a single server environment offering, as opposed to just putting more work into Zend Platform?
Gutmans: By optimizing Zend Server for single-server environments, we have made it more broadly available for (independent software vendors) to use with their applications. In addition, customers who don't need the multiserver aggregated monitoring, session clustering, and job queue offloading provided by Zend Platform may want to run Zend Server on multiple servers, though we believe that our Platform offering remains compelling for most customers in that scenario.

There seems to be a variety of open-source software alternatives on the market for developing PHP Web applications. Why should developers and admins choose Zend?
Gutmans: It's the best of both worlds. PHP developers can rely on and participate in the community, and when they hit a certain scale, they can easily migrate to the commercially supported product.

Zend Server provides one-stop support, critical hot-fix/security updates, higher performance, and application monitoring and diagnostics as part of our commercial package.

As Zend and PHP evolve both together and separately, what do you see as your primary objective?
Gutmans: Our release of Zend Server and Zend Server CE represents a significant shift for the company and a tangible evolution of our product portfolio. With the massive adoption of PHP for Web application development over the last decade, Zend Technologies is in a unique position to provide a complete production environment for PHP developers, administrators, and IT managers.

One of the things we've heard again and again is, how can we provide customers with consistency across the application life cycle, from development to testing to staging and ongoing maintenance of Web applications in production? I'm aiming to duplicate the phenomenal success we have had over the past several years with Zend Framework and the greater PHP community, with Zend Server today.

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