PHP catching on at enterprises, vying with Java

PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) has caught on in enterprise-level Web deployments and is beginning to compete with Java, according to speakers at the Zend/PHP Conference & Expo 2005 event on Wednesday. The open-source scripting language for Web applications was center stage at PHP products-and-services vendor Zend Technologies Inc.'s conference.

"We think PHP is ready for enterprise use," said Ken Jacobs, vice president of product strategy at Oracle Corp.

"Java and PHP compete at some level, and I think it's great," said Mike Milinkovich, executive director of the Eclipse Foundation. This should serve as a reminder within the Java community to "get over itself," he added. Milinkovich's statements are bit of a surprise, since Eclipse has always been known as primarily a Java-based open-source effort.

PHP also is having an effect on the C language community.

There have been many C extensions written for PHP, said Andi Gutmans, Zend vice president of technology. There also PHP extensions for Microsoft Corp.'s .Net Framework, according to Zend.

Some 50,000 sites are using PHP, Zend CEO Doron Gerstel said.

Yahoo Inc. has standardized on PHP, which has helped change the perception of the scripting language, according to Zend.

"It was no longer considered a nice toy and a nice language for simple stuff. It was evident that we could support one of the largest Internet sites in the world," said Zeev Suraski, chief technology officer at Zend.

Responding to the question of whether PHP can scale, panelists at the conference tried to refute the notion that it does not.

"I think that any technology can be made to scale if you work at it hard enough, and any technology can be made to fail if you don't give it the attention that it deserves," said George Schlossnagle, vice president of engineering at OmniTI Computer Consulting Inc., which develops e-mail infrastructure solutions and has been using PHP since 1999. A tremendous amount of Web traffic is being run at PHP sites, Schlossnagle added.

An Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP) official agreed.

"So far, PHP has certainly scaled, and I know from an architectural standpoint, we'll have the capability of getting around any bumps in the road that we see," said Mark Rankin, director of application architecture and infrastructure at PHP user ADP.

"We're rebuilding our Web site at, and we're using PHP," rather than Java, Milinkovich said, noting that Eclipse has a high-volume site.

Upcoming versions of PHP include Version 5.1, planned for early next month, and PHP 6, expected in 2006, according to Zend. Version 5.1 is to feature a faster engine as well as improvements in data integration, including PHP data objects support as well as PHP service data objects for interfacing with databases and XML. Version 6 will include internationalized features for PHP applications.

PHP releases are developed by a variety of participant organizations including Zend, and more than 450 people work on them, Zend said.

IBM representatives demonstrated a project called QEDWiki, for "Quick, Easily Developed Wiki," that is intended to provide for ad hoc business collaboration based on wikis. Known as an "application wiki," the project uses PHP and is now in a proof-of-concept phase.

"It uses PHP all underneath the covers. Everything is PHP," said Rod Smith, IBM vice president of emerging Internet technology.

In a demonstration of the project, a wiki was assembled that featured weather forecasts, enabling stores to gauge which types of supplies to stock up on, such as shovels.

IBM believes that PHP empowers a new segment of developers and has broad community involvement, Smith said.

Zend at the conference announced Zend PHP Collaboration Project, which includes an online PHP meeting place for access to content and best practices; Zend's participation in Eclipse, with plans to develop a PHP plug-in for Eclipse; and development of the Zend PHP Framework, a development environment for PHP.

This story, "PHP catching on at enterprises, vying with Java" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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