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Zend buffs up corporate open-source effort

Company aims to ease server management headaches with PHP tool set. Also on tap: updated tools for Web developers.

Zend Technologies released on Monday a tool set intended to ease the administration of applications written with the open-source development language PHP, as part of Zend's bid to appeal to corporate customers.

The company's founders oversee the development of PHP, a scripting language that is designed to allow rapid construction of Web applications.

PHP, originally known as Personal Home Page, is widely used for Web sites, such as content management systems and blogging programs. Zend is trying to introduce features to make the language more popular within corporations, where Java or Microsoft .Net tools are commonly used.

On Monday, the company released Zend Platform, a new product meant to simplify administration of several PHP servers on a company network. The product provides a single console to configure several servers at once, monitors applications' performance, and streamlines the process of connecting to Java programs. Zend Platform costs $995 per year for a single-processor server.

Next month, Zend plans to release version 4 of Zend Studio, a development tool for writing PHP applications. The upgrade significantly simplifies the process of setting up and accessing commonly used databases for programmers, such as IBM's DB2 and Oracle's namesake database, said Pamela Roussos, vice president of marketing at Zend. It also is designed to simplify the process of working with XML data and Web services protocols.

Zend's business model is to give away an open-source scripting engine, the software required to run PHP applications, and to sell products and services for a "closed source" line of PHP development tools.