Zend kicked off their PHP conference today with updates to their product roadmaps, a glimpse at some future developments and also strategic partnerships with MySQL and Microsoft focused on accelerating the adoption of the PHP. Zend did a good job demonstrating the power of PHP with some cool Web 2.0 applications that use both PHP and MySQL including Flickr, Joomla!, SugarCRM, ZenCart, MediaWiki etc. Then they surprised the audience by showing that these were all running on an IBM iSeries i5 server --what used to be known as the old IBM AS400 "green screen" systems. Given Oracle's recent moves to try to co-opt Red Hat Linux, it's good to see that IBM is serious about not just Linux but the whole LAMP stack.
Zend also shared stats from Evans Data Corporation that showed PHP is the fastest growing programming language. While Java and .Net are growing at 16% and 27% respectively, PHP is growing at 37% annually. Andi Gutmans, Zend co-founder, showed PHP has a much larger and more vibrant community than any other scripting language with over 13,000 ready-made applications or components available at www.hotscripts.com.
While there's still a lot of PHP4 out there, PHP5 is getting a lot of uptake with its support for XML and web services , object-orientation and performance improvements. And with next year's PHP6, there will be support for Unicode, making it easier to support international applications. Zend has also shown a lot of progress on their Zend Framework and Eclipse PHP project, both of which will be reaching GA status in 2007.
Zend and MySQL announced that they will cooperate more closely on integrating PHP and MySQL into the forthcoming ZendCore platform. PHP is the number one language for web applications and MySQL is the leading web database, so these two go together like PB & J. Marten Mickos also announced that MySQL is working on a pure native connector for PHP that will include client-side query caching and prepared statement caching. This new PHP connector will also be licensed under the PHP license so there's no confusion about how it can be used.
Microsoft did a good job showing how they are working with Zend to improve PHP performance on Windows. Although people sometimes believe open source is really a Linux phenomena, Windows remains a huge development platform for both MySQL and PHP. But what bugs Microsoft, is that the applications are predominantly deployed on something other than Windows!
Microsoft's Bill Hilf and Bill Staples from the Internet Information Server (IIS) team demonstrated that with some recent patches from Zend and a FastCGI implementation they're able to get performance on a typical PHP application on Windows (in this case, the Qdig photo application) up by a factor of 2x. Then by using a new IIS Kernel Cache system, the performance went up by another 50x. Ok, this was just one demo, so who knows whether other apps will get this same level of performance gain. But it was still a pretty impressive demo with Windows, IIS, MySQL and PHP running on Vista on a Macintosh! Yes, a Mac. How cool is that?