Zend, a provider of PHP development solutions, and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership aimed at transforming developer productivity in the cloud starting with a joint integrated offering of Zend’s transformative Z-Ray technology with Microsoft’s Azure App Service.
Zend Technologies’ Z-Ray is an innovative new technology that gives developers deep insight into how their code is running as they are developing it—all without having to change any of their habits or workflow. It’s a toolbar that displays all the under-the-hood details of a page request, across all the PHP scripts involved in building the page. Z-Ray is injected into the response coming from your PHP app and shown right in front of you, in your browser. With Z-Ray, you can immediately understand the impact of your code changes, enabling you to both improve quality and solve issues long before your code reaches production.
The combination of Z-Ray and Azure App Service delivers productivity and insight to both PHP developers and developers of PHP-based applications such as WordPress, Drupal, Magento, and Joomla, said Andi Gutmans, CEO and co-founder of Zend.
“Microsoft selected our innovative Z-Ray technology as a key differentiator to their cloud offering,” Gutmans said. “We are very impressed to see how Microsoft is able to increase PHP developers’ productivity and enhance their user experience with the tight integration of our technology and their platform.”
Gutmans told eWEEK that Zend is focused on addressing the importance of developers to cloud providers, particularly as more and more development is moving into the cloud.
“Platform vendors are all trying to differentiate themselves in the cloud by trying to provide the best platform for the cloud developer,” he said. “Given that PHP is such a big part of the web world, there has been a lot of interest in PHP over the last year. The strategic partnership between Zend and Microsoft Azure is focused on differentiating the development and runtime experience for the cloud developer on Microsoft Azure. And the focus of this is going to be around the generic PHP developer and developers of some of the popular applications in the PHP space like WordPress, Drupal and Magento. The PHP market is very large and has sub-markets in it.”
Indeed, PHP is one of the most popular programming languages for building Web apps and Websites. Microsoft has long supported PHP on Azure, as the company early on sought to make Azure a platform for polyglot programming by supporting a variety of programming languages and environments including Java, Python, Ruby, .NET and Node.js in addition to PHP.
Moreover, Microsoft has been working with Zend on PHP-related efforts since 2001, Gutmans said.
“We’ve collaborated in the past and Microsoft has made investments in PHP over the years, recognizing the importance of PHP on the web,” he said. “Two things brought this deal about. The first was the more Microsoft invests in Azure and the cloud, the more important it is for them to be heterogeneous and deliver a lot of value and differentiation to the open source market. The natural progression for them was clear and PHP represents a pretty significant chunk of the workloads that today are running on Azure. One of the catalysts for this partnership was some of the work we’ve been doing around Z-Ray and innovating around the developer experience and making a big impact on productivity and quality for development. They are working in the cloud and looking at ways to accelerate developer adoption. With PHP, there’s really no bigger community to target today outside of what they’re already doing with .NET.”
For his part, Bill Staples, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure App Service, said in a statement: “We are focused on delivering the best developer experience in the cloud for PHP developers as well as anyone who builds apps using Java, .NET, node.js, Python, and other popular open source frameworks. Z-Ray is a key addition to our App Service offering and our work with Zend also demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the open source community.”
Zend, Microsoft Launch New PHP on Azure Partnership
In a blog post on the partnership, Nir Mashkowski, principal group program manager for Azure Web Sites, said Z-Ray acts as a developer’s cockpit, continuously showing developers the inner workings of their application right inside the browser window, seamlessly integrating into the app web UI.
And the Z-Ray for Azure offering is a unique PHP productivity technology fully integrated with Azure App Service. It provides developers with continuous in-depth insight into their PHP applications, delivering increased productivity, application performance, and code quality. Zend also offers Z-Ray for developers on the Amazon Web services cloud platform.
“When our team saw Z-Ray several months ago—it caught our attention,” Mashkowski said. “The depth of information combined with the intuitive developer workflow made it a very attractive proposition for our customers. Making it available exclusively on Azure App Service—the only cloud service to offer integrated Z-Ray experience—bolsters our efforts to deliver the best user experience to developers of WordPress, Drupal, Magento and other PHP applications. It reiterates our commitment to making Azure App Service is a great platform to develop PHP apps in the cloud as well as other platforms such as .NET, Java, Node.js and Python.”
Gutmans said Zend and Microsoft have a shared vision of transforming the developer experience in the cloud.
“The initial focus of this latest partnership is to combine the strong developer experience of Azure App Service with the innovative developer experience Z-Ray delivers,” Gutmans said in a blog post. “In order to optimize the experience for both existing and new Azure App Service customers, we decided to integrate a standalone specifically tailored version of Z-Ray directly into the Azure App Service experience. Ultimately, with an application platform like Azure App Service, you really shouldn’t have to care about any of the plumbing—you should be able to go from code to cloud within seconds. Z-Ray will be pre-integrated and provisioned into PHP-based Web sites, meaning developers can enable it with the click of a button both for development and production. This tightly integrated and optimized experience will ensure the broadest set of developers can access this technology, including casual developers of popular applications such as WordPress and Drupal as well as mobile/API developers.”
The integration of Z-Ray within Azure App Service delivers an out-of-the-box experience that enables developers to access it with the flip of a switch. Z-Ray inherently supports mobile and API development with its Z-Ray Live! technology. It also features a pluggable architecture that makes it easy to customize and extend Z-Ray to any framework or application in addition to the built-in support for popular PHP apps.
“Agility and productivity are key drivers to cloud platform decisions, and developers are at the epicenter of making those choices,” Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC, said in a statement. “By jointly integrating Z-Ray at the Azure PaaS-level, Zend and Microsoft deliver a unique new view of app behavior and performance which enables strong developer productivity and quality in the cloud.”
“Developers, and more specifically open source developers, are the new kingmakers who determine platform adoption,” said Stephen O’Grady, principal analyst with RedMonk, in a statement. “This is particularly true in the cloud, which is why Microsoft and Zend partnering around Z-Ray to improve the Azure developer experience is an important step for PHP developers.”
Gutmans said Zend will demonstrate Z-Ray for Azure at Microsoft’s Build 2015 developer event, which kicks off at the end of April. Zend will release a public preview of Z-Ray for Azure soon after, he said.