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Zend targets Java with growing PHP community

Company plans to undermine Java--and Sun--by building up a paying community around the scripting language.

Leave it to Zend to kick Java-loving Sun Microsystems when it's down.

PHP has become one of the hottest programming languages in technology, and the engine behind the little scripting language that could is Zend Technologies. Back in 2000 Zend released its Zend Framework to facilitate PHP development, and it's now taking this Java-bashing crusade a step further with the release of its new Zend Server, as The Register reports.

As Dave Rosenberg notes over on CNET's Software Interrupted blog, Zend Technologies is making available its Zend Server on Tuesday as both a commercial product and one free to the community for download. Why? Because such a move should further facilitate PHP adoption and give Zend a prime location to profit from that adoption.

Smart strategy. The new Zend Server can be easily integrated into any bundle, runs native to the operating system, and offers significant performance and management features. With the community version, the company says developers and admins can set up a complete PHP environment in minutes.

This is especially interesting for two reasons:

  1. With the general availability of Zend Server, the company is obviously signaling that it's serious about run-time and extending its products beyond tools. In other words, it wants to make money. Lots of it. It's smart enough to know that there is a huge market opportunity to support PHP application development with a full production environment--from tools to run-time. And with both the company and a community of users supporting it, Zend can help PHP dominate in Web development.
  2. The company is going to use the freeware model to accelerate adoption and then convert some of those users to paying customers and provide a foundation of access and support for which the open-source software model has blazed the trail. This model has worked for Red Hat, Zimbra, and others, and I suspect it will work for Zend, too.

This wraps up a really amazing decade for Zend Technologies and its recently appointed CEO, Andi Gutmans. And with big companies like Adobe Systems, Google, IBM and Microsoft using PHP or rumored to nearing full support for it, the next decade should be equally as productive.

In other words, life just became a wee bit harder for Sun. Just what it needed.

Follow me on Twitter @mjasay.