The PHP community around IBM i is growing up and I couldn’t be more impressed.
As I get ready for the fall conference season I see plenty of travel in my future. This is always a good thing as that means there is demand and sincere interest in PHP on IBM i. What also seems to be chewing up my free time is our training programs. Zend has two major IBM i centric initiatives. First is the PHP I Foundation for IBM i. This is the class where most IBM i customers begin their journey down the PHP road. The class is taught online for 2 hours a day, every other day for three weeks by John Valance and occasionally by me. There was so much demand for the course in the 2nd half of this year and now we are sold out for the rest of 2012.
Building on the success of the foundations 1 course is our SmartStart which combines the system setup, Foundations I training, and a “Proof-of-Concept” type project for one low price. One major advantage is that we let the customer decide the project! These have ranged from iPad applications on a shop floor to Web services to Executive dashboards. The concept is to compress the head pounding that many IBM i folks endure when learning a new technology from 6 months down to 2 weeks. At the end of the engagement most customers have a solution they can show off and support! In today’s “results oriented” society, this provides a big advantage for most IBM i shops. A CIO can show REAL value for the investment and also make a VERY informed decision about the strategic value of PHP without risking the entire budget.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I would love to say the SmartStart has been a smashing success and in many ways they have all been successful. But we have learned a lot about the delivery and services around IBM i and are in the prime execution mode of SmartStart. In addition to delivering training a local company I walk away with new perspectives on businesses using PHP and the day to day issues developers struggle with when working with IBM i. Some of these issues are self-inflicted like working with RPG II & III skills and code bases while others are still struggling with three environments on a single IBM i. We at Zend ARE listening and in the next few months you will be hearing about the fruits of our labors. The R&D group is hard at work on MANY new initiatives and we are working to address a number of the customer concerns raised over the years as we move toward the next major release. I think that teases it nicely without committing to any details ;-)