Enterprise PHP vendor Zend is now testing a new version of its Zend Server in an effort to improve PHP application deployment automation.
Zend Server 5.5 will be the first major update to the PHP middleware platform since the 5.0 release in October of 2009. The Zend Server 5.5 release has a key focus on helping to improve automated PHP app deployment.
"Zend Server 5.5 continues a focus of ours on enabling the strong connection between development and operations," Zend CEO Andi Gutmans told InternetNews.com.
One of the new features in Zend Server is the enablement of management software that can automate the setup of clusters.
"So if you're using something like Puppet or Chef you can easily provision and use Zend Server and then programmatically register and un-register Zend Servers within a production or development environment," Gutmans said.
Gutmans explained that the server registration process takes care of replicating sessions and high-availability. He added that if a new server comes up and is registered in a cluster, Zend Server automatically deploys the application and configures the server.
"What we're really enabling is the automation of building Zend Server in a cloud environment or on bare metal," Gutmans said.
Gutmans noted that the new application deployment feature in Zend Server 5.5 is the most requested feature that his company has had for the product in the past few years. He added that in general he has seen a lack of best practices around deployment as well as a breakdown between how developers build and test versus how applications come into production.
"We've created a common package for your whole application that has metadata in it that defines what needs to be available in the production environment," Gutmans said. "For example, what extensions should be running and what php.ini directives need to be turned on."
Gutmans added that developers can now build an application exactly the way they want it deployed in production. The actual deployment can be done programmatically or though a user interface to the PHP cluster.
"We're storing the application and its configuration in a central repository and new servers that come up pull the information down and provision automatically," Gutmans said.
Going a step further, Gutmans said that there is a deployment tool that helps developers to build packages. Additionally, the system will be worked into the Zend Studio PHP IDE workflow.
"From our point of view, this is a must-have feature as we continue to push out our PHP application platform in the cloud," Gutmans said.
Zend Server 5.5 is currently in beta and is expected to be generally available before the end of the year.