Zend hails PHP for Microsoft, IBM

Microsoft has come to acknowledge the size of the PHP community, Zend exec says

Zend Technologies is perhaps the first name in PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor), the popular open-source scripting language for Web development. The company both participates in development of PHP and offers products around the server-side development platform. Andi Gutmans, a cofounder of the company and its vice president of technology, spoke with Paul Krill this week at the Zend/PHP Conference & Expo in California about PHP, the company's blockbuster deal with Microsoft, and other happenings.

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What do you see as the significance of Microsoft's collaboration with Zend that you announced the other day?

The significance is definitely that Microsoft has come to acknowledge the size of the PHP community and also the fact that there is an overlap. There are a lot of PHP users who are interested in getting good PHP support in Windows. And I think with [Microsoft General Manager of Technical Platform Strategy] Bill Hilf's recent work, it shows that Microsoft is now really willing to do what's right for their platform, and also cooperate with its competition in certain areas of interoperability.

You don't think Microsoft would rather just have those users develop on Visual Basic or C++?

Oh, definitely. I mean in a perfect world, all those developers would be .Net developers.

Perfect for Microsoft?

Exactly. That's obviously what they would like. And you know, they're not hiding that either. But on the other hand, they realize that that's not the case and that's probably never going to be the case. And it's very hard to ignore a community of 4.5 million developers and have those developers go to Unix and Linux platforms.

What is Zend's role in the development of the PHP scripting language?

We're contributors to the language and the language implementation itself. So, kind of the JVM [Java Virtual Machine] of PHP is called the Zend Engine, and that was originally developed by [Zend Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer] Zeev Suraski and myself in 1998.

Who is the founder of PHP?

Rasmus Lerdorf. He wrote the original version. And then in 1997 we wrote PHP 3. We helped write that. And then the big rewrite came about a year or two later, which was PHP 4 and the Zend Engine.

What were the main goals in the development of PHP?

The main goal is being the best Web development language. The big advantage of PHP is that we are solely focused on the Web and Web services. And that is what makes the language so powerful. We don't try [to] be a general-purpose language.

Is Zend profitable these days, leveraging open source technology like PHP?

Currently we're still in the investment stage. In the summer, we completed Series D round [financing], a $20 million round. And so we are still investing in growing the business.

How does PHP compare to other scripting languages such as AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML), Ruby, Perl, Python, JavaScript? AJAX is not a language per se. How does PHP compare to all these others?

AJAX and JavaScript are the technologies that are used on the client side. And PHP works very well in conjunction with that. So they complement each other.

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