Monday, January 19, 2015

Developing PHP with Zend Server 8 for IBM i

Developing PHP with Zend Server 8 for IBM i


A lot of announcements from Zend last week and most important is the release of Zend Server 8 which includes the updated distribution for IBM i!  Zend Server 8 has quite a few new features you can read up more about on our web site like Z-Ray and URL Contexts.  I would like to focus this discussion here on the latest versions of PHP and installation questions.

The Zend website went through some changes last year and some folks have had trouble finding things.  As always, please do not suffer in silence.  Let us help you.  First question that tends to come up: “Is Zend Server still free?”  And the answer is yes, the Basic Edition comes at no charge via our partnership with IBM.  Now the license to enable the Admin GUI is available through the team at Zend.  So please get in touch with us if you need an updated key after your initial support window has expired.  

The download page has several options including the full install and updates.  If you have Zend Server 5 or lower, you will install Zend Server 8 side-by-side and migrate the applications to the new environment.  If you have Zend Server 6 or later, there is a single PTF to update the server AND PHP version!  Yes, that’s right, you can update the PHP version while updating Zend Server.  Just LODPTF and APYPTF and you’re all set. 
We only support one instance of Zend Server per LPAR so if you’d like to test things out we’d strongly recommend a development LPAR.  If you do not have a development LPAR and we can refer you to some folks who do a GREAT job helping companies implementing these solutions so the production environment remains safe and unchanged until you are ready to move forward.  

Development LPAR?

Folks often ask me: “why do I need a development LPAR when we’ve been running on IBM i and its ancestors for years without a problem?”  For that question I have many responses and I’ll focus on two here.  First you have more workload on your IBM i today than you did even 5 years ago.  I have many customers running their green screen ERP along with EDI, web services, web pages and much more.  So the resources are being taxed and there are more moving parts to worry about than just flipping a library list.  Second, you have more developers on your IBM i today than in previous years.  Again, I run into many IBM i shops with PHP developers who have not grown up on IBM i and are accustomed to having their on sandbox where things can break.   Putting them on a production LPAR can prove disastrous!

IBM has made it much more cost effective to have a development LPAR as of POWER 7 and IBM i 7.1 so if you are in need then now is a great time to look into this feature.