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Sun teams with Israeli firm in PHP initiative

Sun Microsystems has partnered with Israeli web infrastructure software company Zend Technologies to enable developers to deploy applications written using the PHP scripting language on Sun's Java Web server.

PHP is an open-source scripting language often used to create "dynamic" web pages - those that are created or personalised on the fly, such as news and e-commerce sites - and provides a way to pull information from a database or other external source for presentation to end users.

Zend oversees the development of PHP and also sells a commercial implementation of the technology. Yesterday it released two products that integrate with version 6.1 of Sun's Java System Web Server, allowing companies to deploy PHP on Sun's software.

The two products are the PHP Enabler, which is intended to let PHP programs run smoothly on Sun's Web server, and the Zend Performance Suite, which uses code acceleration, content caching and other software tricks to improve the performance of PHP on the Sun platform,.

To date, PHP has been deployed most often on the open-source Apache Web server, but IT executives at large corporations are often wary of using Apache for critical applications because of concerns about security and support issues, according to Brad Young, Zend's director of product marketing.

Integrating Zend's PHP products with Sun gives IT staff the option to deploy PHP programs on Sun's Web server, which cautious IT executives may prefer.

Sun and Zend said their partnership aims to address the increased use of PHP among large corporations. In particular, they are targeting financial services and insurance companies, airlines and media websites, as well as government customers.

"As we see PHP become more mainstream it's vital for us to support the technology in the most reliable and high-performance manner. Combined with Zend's performance suite, we can offer our customers a compelling story," said Yvette Montiel, strategic marketing manager for web services at Sun.

Sun hoped that adding support for PHP will attract the 400,000 to 500,000 developers using the technology to its Java platform, she added. Zend, meanwhile, stands to gain from wider distribution of its products.

Netcraft, a company which tracks server software used on the web, said in August that scripting languages were enjoying more growth than any other web technology, as site owners try to make their sites more sophisticated. Today, PHP is the most-used scripting language on the web, deployed on around a quarter of all domains.

Zend is offering a version of the PHP Enabler for Sun's Web server for free without support. A package including the PHP Enabler, Zend's Performance Suite and support services is priced starting at $775 per server.

James Niccolai writes for IDG News Service


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