Zend and the art of PHP

Zend is a major contributor to the advancement of PHP solutions within the enterprise. It provides products for use in an enterprise development environment, and its founders are the creators of PHP itself.
Written by Shelley Doll, Contributor
Zend is a major contributor to the advancement of PHP solutions within the enterprise. It provides products for use in an enterprise development environment, and its founders are the creators of PHP itself. This article will discuss the validity of using PHP in enterprise endeavors and examine recent developments within this community.

Resource appeal
PHP does one thing, and does it well: Web applications. While all server-side Web platforms offer roughly the same features, PHP has the added bonus of being geared toward the people who will actually write the code. Its syntax is simple, intuitive yet powerful, and easy to adopt whether you’re new to development or have been programming for years.

Other easy-to-use languages focus on a developer base that is specific to their platform, but PHP is structured to be familiar to those who have been working with C, C++, Java, Perl, and the like. It offers companies a much larger resource pool from which to find talented individuals who will be immediately productive.

Another great benefit of PHP is that it is open source. Why is that so great? Not only is there no licensing fee required to use it, but you’ve also got immediate, free access to thousands of applications, dozens of extension modules, standardized code libraries, and a huge support group.

These add-ons have been developed by programmers willing to share their experience and who, for the most part, write to standards, comment their code, and structure their scripts so that they’re easy to read, modify, and deploy. Given the crunch deadlines experienced at most companies performing custom development, this is a tremendous time-saver and helps ensure reusability of your code. For these reasons and more, PHP’s growing popularity with corporate clients comes as no surprise.

Corporate adoption
As with Perl, PHP started being used in enterprise solutions as the result of developer referral. Programmers like and trust the language, so it snuck its way in from the bottom up on both Windows and UNIX systems. The PHP creators recognized this and began Zend—a venture to address the real-world needs of IT management, such as performance, code obfuscation, and rapid development tools—with tremendous success.

Zend Studio 2

Developer environment for programming, debugging, and deploying code

Zend Encoder 2

Application for converting code to a non-human-readable format for code protection that significantly improves parsing speed.

Zend Optimizer

Free product used in conjunction with Zend Encoder to reduce real-time parsing, significantly improving performance.

Zend Accelerator 2

Performance-enhancing software that improves response up to 5 times! Replaces the product, Zend Cache.

Zend Technical Support

Options include product support and upgrades.

Zend products

Zend products address the specific needs of enterprise developers, making PHP a viable solution for high-traffic and proprietary Web sites. Because there is no license fee, the total quality solution provided by Zend costs much less than deploying other technologies without compromising on deployment features.

In the recent economic climate, this cost-effectiveness has boosted adoption of PHP. Once companies have the technology in place, they've found that deployment of Zend’s products have further improved their ROI due to reduced time-to-market, ease of use, a short learning curve, productivity gains, and runtime performance. Additionally, deployment of Zend Accelerator offers such a huge performance improvement that supplemental hardware has become unnecessary in many cases—a great money-saver.
Another factor that's driving the popularity of Zend in particular is the effectiveness of its products. While each one is positioned strongly in its own area, all Zend platform components are completely integrated with each other and with the PHP module itself.

Once a business has been introduced to PHP, Zend is the only company that provides a complete, end-to-end development platform. While there are competing products in each of the discussed areas, none of them has the level of professionalism or integration capabilities that the Zend products provide. Needless to say, Zend has a significant advantage in that its team maintains PHP itself. With these great benefits, Zend’s popularity has continued to increase.

Target market
In the past, PHP and Zend deployments were used primarily by small to medium-size Web development, design, and hosting companies. This makes perfect sense, as these types of businesses tend to be positioned particularly well to take advantage of PHP’s Web-centric nature.

More recently, however, Zend has reported a significant trend toward medium to large nontechnology-based businesses using its products. These companies have chosen Zend largely because PHP is widely used and has a substantial knowledge base. The language has caught on so well that it's finding its way into standard tech buzzword lore.

Now that PHP has become a proven technology, its usage is growing in the United States, Germany, Japan, France, Canada, Italy, and the United Kingdom. These countries are all leaders in development technology, so expertise is easy to find. PHP is becoming a staple for Web developers, and intelligent business practice dictates that you use the resources at hand.

Zend products target two broad categories—Web development and performance enhancement. While many authoring tools are available for editing PHP and HTML, only Zend Studio and Zend Encoder are appropriate for serious professionals. With debugging and facilitated deployment functionalities, these products have elevated PHP use to be on par with competing technologies.
As for performance enhancement, Zend’s Accelerator product sells itself. The Zend platform offers better, less expensive improvements over third-party caching solutions. Additionally, PHP, having been designed specifically for Web use, runs more efficiently than competing technologies.

With Zend’s help, PHP has grown from a quest for better tools for Web development into a complete platform suitable for enterprise deployments. Its popularity has grown, creating a tremendous resource base. In a time when organizations are looking to squeeze every penny, the benefits of deploying PHP have been embraced. By taking advantage of PHP’s open source nature, Zend has broken the paradigm and achieved what every company wants: cheap, fast, and good.

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