Zend Guard 4 enables independent software vendors, developers and businesses—anybody who does original PHP programming—to protect intellectual property written in the language. By combining encryption and code obfuscation with license management, the new product offers an unprecedented level of protection, Zend said.
"This is the first time, we believe, that any code-protection software has combined encryption, obfuscation and a licensing manager all in one package," Product Line Manager Michel Gerin told eWEEK. "In fact, we have added two levels of obfuscation—basic and strong—to make it even more difficult for someone to reverse engineer any of the code that is protected."
Obfuscated code has its standard language syntax and grammar masked from the main body of code. Encryption is the process of obscuring code to make it unreadable without special knowledge.
Cupertino, Calif.-based Zend claims that PHP (formerly called Personal Home Page) is currently used by more than 22 million Web sites and that number is climbing. As more developers begin experimenting with and deploying PHP for business applications, the demand for improved security for the open-source programming language has increased, the company said.
Zend Guard 4 comprises two key components, the Zend Guard encoder, which handles both the encryption and obfuscation, and the Zend Guard license manager, which enables the protection and mass distribution of commercial PHP applications.
Licenses can be easily modified or renewed, without deploying new software, Gerin said. Developers can pick and choose from a variety of flexible licensing models, such as those for concurrent users, time-limited, segment of network or server-specific, Gerin said.
A new, easier-to-use interface includes new wizards to help programmers encode PHP applications and manage licensing more efficiently while maintaining optimal application performance. The new version also supports PHP 5.1, Gerin added.
PHP has been an increasingly popular choice among SMBs (small and midsize businesses) and nonprofits for building homemade Web sites, due to its relative simplicity of configuration and lack of licensing fees.
As the technology has matured during the last two years at Zend and through its open-source developer community, PHP has become an often-used Web development software for larger enterprises&3151;often replacing Java and .Net layers within systems.