Best practices of the daily scrum at NYPHP

28 August 2012 » Agile, New York PHP, PHP

Join us tonight at the New York PHP meeting in midtown Manhattan to hear best practices for agile PHP development from Patricia Ju of Hackerbilt.

As a former scrum-half, I’m particularly interested in the actual rugby ball Hackerbilt brings to the daily standup. :)

RSVP now.

Zend on IBM private/public clouds at NYPHP

21 June 2012 » Cloud, DB2, IBM, New York PHP, PHP, Zend

Next Tuesday, June 26th, I’ll be speaking at the New York PHP user group about the project I led to bring the Zend Application Fabric onto IBM’s on-premise private cloud rack, PureSystems, and onto IBM’s public cloud, SmartCloud Enterprise.

I’ll describe the Zend Application Fabric for highly available PHP clusters, and show how its topology is supported by scaling and failover policies built into the IBM platform. I’ll also show how it integrates with the DB2 based Database-as-a-Service.

Zend Application Fabric

At the core of the Zend/IBM system is an IBM virtual application pattern (based on the TOSCA standard) that specifies how virtual machines are layed out, which other VMs they should link (or react) to based on life cycle events, and when they should scale up or down.

You will learn how to activate the Zend pattern, customize the topology, set a scaling policy, monitor the infrastructure, tweak the Zend configuration, view IBM elasticity and fault tolerance in action, and perform repeatable deployments using a template.

RSVP now, or make a note to catch the live stream.

Zend phpcloud.com at NYPHP

26 March 2012 » Cloud, New York PHP, PHP, Zend

Tomorrow night we’ll again host Edward Kietlinski at New York PHP.

He’ll talk about the latest offerings from Zend to bring your PHP applications to their developer cloud.

Soon, you’ll also be able to deploy your production-ready applications to the IBM SmartCloud.

RSVP now for Tuesday night’s meeting at IBM in midtown Manhattan.

Or, if you can’t make it in person, watch online with Cal Evans.

MongoDB and ZendCon at New York PHP

24 October 2011 » MongoDB, New York PHP, PHP, Zend

This month we have a double feature at New York PHP.

PHP on IBM System i consultant Alan Seiden will give us an update on what transpired at last week’s ZendCon.

10gen MongoDB evangelist Steve Francia will provide an overview on using PHP with MongoDB.

RSVP now for the meeting at IBM in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday October 25th or watch online starting at 6:30pm ET.

Use the IBM Cloud to build your PHP apps

14 March 2011 » Cloud, DB2, developerWorks, New York PHP, PHP, Zend

IBM developerWorks just published an article I wrote about using the Development and Test Cloud to create PHP applications.

The tutorial covers some scenarios that make the cloud compelling for PHP developers and then takes the reader through the installation of Zend Server with DB2 on the IBM Cloud.

If the content looks familiar, you may have seen an earlier version in a print copy I handed out at New York PHP (PDF) late last year.

Speaking of the cloud and NYPHP, don’t forget to join us next week to look at an alternative way to use the cloud to develop PHP applications using Amazon and RightScale.

PHP 5.3 at New York PHP this Tuesday

25 July 2010 » New York PHP, PHP

This month Hans Zaunere and Nate Abele will give us a look at the new features in PHP 5.3 and how they’re used in production today.

Specifically, these NYPHP regulars will cover three new major language features: namespaces, late static binding, and closures.

RSVP now for the meeting at IBM in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday July 27th.

Facebook and HipHop at New York PHP

27 April 2010 » New York PHP, PHP, Web development

Tonight we’re hosting Scott MacVicar from Facebook as he presents their highly optimized version of PHP called HipHop.

HipHop translates and compiles regular PHP source into a C++ binary that reduces CPU and memory usage and thus helps Facebook serve twice the content with a two-thirds the resources of a stock Apache and PHP system.

Look for the slides in our New York PHP user group archives shortly.

Follow development of the open source HipHop project at github and keep up with Scott via his blog.

Technology of the day: Zend Server

03 September 2009 » DB2, Linux, MySQL, New York PHP, PHP, Zend

A few months back, Ed Kietlinski introduced us to the new Zend Server at a New York PHP meeting. I’ve since installed it on two of my department’s servers and put together some notes on my experience.

Update: See the comments section for some configuration suggestions from Zend that differ from the steps I followed. Jess also clarifies the difference in caching between the standard and Community Editions.

What is Zend Server?
Zend Server is a packaged version of PHP targeted at businesses that require a supported and tested stack that’s easy to install and maintain.

It also integrates the other Zend products, such as the Zend Framework, Zend Studio for debugging, Zend Caches, Zend Java Bridge, and Zend Guard/Optimizer among others.

Zend offers several variants and licensing models. There’s a Community Edition that’s free but doesn’t include the more advanced features such as caching and monitoring, there are several tiers of production support, and there are half-price development licenses.

In all cases, migration from one version to another is simply a matter of updating your license information in Zend Server’s console.

Why it interests me
Zend Server hits a sweet spot for my team, where we run only one each of development and production LAMP servers.

We don’t cluster nor do we require a job queue for our PHP applications, so the Zend Platform Enterprise Solution doesn’t fit our needs (See this comparison table).

Of course, we use plenty of WebSphere and Java for our sponsor facing applications hosted in advanced data centers that have different functional and non-functional requirements.

However, our internal department tools are supported by hybrid front-end/server-side developers that can learn and get up and productive on PHP quickly, rather than needing to know or learn Java in the same ramp up period.

In the cases where we require queuing or clustering, we look to WebSphere Application Server, rather than Zend Platform Enterprise Edition, as we do to run our Restlet/Spring Integration pseudo-ESB that integrates many of our other internal tools.

The primary attraction of Zend Server for these department servers is that it can be used as an RPM-based system that bundles the latest stable version of PHP with all the extensions that we need, including the DB2 and MySQL drivers, curl, libxml and mbstring.

Our full-time system administrator has long had to maintain custom compiled versions of PHP and Apache, but we want to move to an automated, package-managed way of doing things as he increases the volume of non-sysadmin work he has taken on.

The RPMs from CentOS repositories are traditionally a few PHP versions behind and aren’t patched frequently enough to fully rely on the operating system’s default package management system.

As I’m writing this, the most recent RPM version of PHP is 5.1.6 where the most recent version of PHP is 5.2.10 (shipped with Zend Server 4.0.4) and 5.3 (shipped with Zend Server 4.0.5).

Beyond easing maintenance for us from an installation and update perspective, Zend Server also offers a performance boost (an optimizer and cacher), monitoring features (logs, traces and event notifications), and simplified configuration (switching on and off extensions, setting directive properties) managed through its GUI Web console.

Installation
I installed Zend Server on two servers – an x86 and an x86_64 – running CentOS 5.3 using the RPM method. One is the test server; the other is a future production server that is hosting some supplemental applications now.

The production server has a tiered license provided by Zend, who is an IBM Business Partner. The development server will run a half-priced version of the license intended for test server installations.

In both cases, installation was straightforward. There are more detailed instructions available for other operating systems and package management methods.

  • My first step was to find other PHP packages on the system.
    [root@192.168.1.1]# rpm -qa | grep php

    And remove each one.

    [root@192.168.1.1]# rpm -e {package name}

    After uninstalling the PHP packages, php.ini will be backed up:

    /etc/php.ini saved as /etc/php.ini.rpmsave
  • Then, I installed Zend Server.

    [root@192.168.1.1]# tar xvzf ZendServer-4.0.4-RepositoryInstaller-linux.tar.gz
    [root@192.168.1.1]# cd ZendServer-RepositoryInstaller-linux/
    [root@192.168.1.1]# ./install.sh

    This script will set up your repositories, and kick off the installation process. It will stop, configure, and restart the existing Apache instance (we’ve kept that as a standard RPM).

The only additional package I needed to install that was not part of the default set was the DB2 driver. You must have a DB2 runtime client on the server at a minimum to use this.

  • Install the DB2 driver for PHP.

    [root@192.168.1.1]# yum install php-ibmdb2-zend-pe

A few tips
Of course, as with any PHP build, some post-installation configuration may be necessary.

I pointed out above that my existing php.ini was backed up after removing the older PHP packages. You’ll want to make sure the old and the new php.ini are functionally equivalent.

  • DB2
    For one of my servers, I didn’t have to follow any special configuration steps to get the Zend Server to interact with DB2, but the other wouldn’t load the DB2 extension at first.

    It failed with the following error.

    PHP Warning:  PHP Startup: Unable to load dynamic library ‘/usr/local/zend/lib/php_extensions/ibm_db2.so’ – libdb2.so.1: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory in Unknown on line 0

    The resolution to this issue was simple, it requires you to source the DB2 environment for the Web server user. In my case, I added the following line to the /etc/init.d/httpd startup script:

    . /home/db2inst1/sqllib/db2profile
  • Mail
    I also had to make a small adjustment to my mail directives to point it to sendmail on my system, as described in this forum post.

    /usr/sbin/sendmail -t -i
  • PEAR
    The latest version of Zend Server fixes an issue with the PEAR installer, but if you are using the packaged (not tarball, version 4.0.5) version of Zend Server 4.0.4, you might want to follow the tips in this forum post.

If I run into any other issues or tips on Zend Server, I’ll post updates here.

I also hope to dig into the differences between Zend Core for IBM and Zend Server, in order to evaluate whether it’s a worthwhile cross-upgrade for my server at home that hosts this blog.

Find out more
To learn more about Zend Server from the source, check out the main product page, with pointers to the different editions, getting started tutorials and videos, and the FAQ.

The Zend Server documentation is very helpful too, including sections on best practices for performance and security.

As with Zend’s other products, they’ve also got an active forum for Zend Server.

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