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.

Migrating PHP applications to DB2

08 March 2012 » DB2, developerWorks, MySQL, PHP, Writing, Zend

IBM developerWorks has just published the final part in our series on migrating a PHP application from MySQL to DB2.

Learn why to move a PHP application to DB2, how to plan the migration, how to execute it, how to support it, and how to handle potential risks based on the experience of an IBM intranet application case study. This four-part series shares lessons from a successful MySQL-to-DB2 migration for a mission-critical PHP intranet application used by 4,000 global users within IBM to support content production for ibm.com.

In addition to sharing our own experience, the series highlights the number of resources available to you to carry out your own migration.

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.

Move from MySQL to DB2 via the Cloud

24 November 2010 » Cloud, DB2, developerWorks, Linux, PHP, Zend

IBM developerWorks has just published the first article in a series that Mark Nusekabel, Yan Li Mu and I wrote about our experience migrating a large PHP and MySQL application to DB2.

In the four part series we look at preparation, switching databases, porting code, and finally deploying the application. This first installment covers the steps to plan and resources to consult when starting a migration project.

Along with the MySQL to DB2 migration Redbook, a key technology supplementing each step in the process is the IBM Smart Business Development and Test Cloud.

If you already have access to the Development and Test pilot, the PHP developer’s guide (PDF) can give you some tips for configuring Zend Server along with DB2 using virtual machines in that cloud.

The article series and the developer’s guide may also be useful to those who have a contract for the GA version of Development and Test.

Another option to evaluate DB2 for a migration is to use the Amazon EC2 AMIs pre-configured with IBM software individually.

Or, if you’re interested in managing several instances or more complex configurations, RightScale and IBM have collaborated (PDF) to bridge the Amazon and IBM clouds.

So, if you’re considering a new relational backend for your application, the developerWorks migration series, the PHP developer’s guide for the IBM cloud, and the images within the Amazon and IBM clouds will give you a new set of tools to make evaluating the move and executing the switchover much easier.

Develop and test your apps on the IBM Cloud

I moved to a new position within IBM at the beginning of the year, joining the Enterprise Initiatives organization responsible for delivering IBM Smart Business Development and Test on the IBM Cloud.

Before I joined this team, Development and Test launched as a free public beta in 2009. Throughout 2010 we’ve incrementally improved the pilot and in the near future a generally available pay-per-use version will go live.

I’ll describe some of the features that Development and Test beta has now, highlight some usage scenarios that it can enable or improve, and along the way tell you where to learn more. As always, the standard disclaimer applies.

In a future post, I may put together step-by-step instructions on using the virtual machines on the IBM Cloud to:

  • Build PHP with an instance of DB2 as a way to illustrate how system administrators can evaluate the platform or practice configuration.
  • Verify that a sample Java EE application written for Tomcat works unmodified on WebSphere.

IBM Smart Business Development and Test on the IBM Cloud
Like many Cloud technologies, Development and Test aims to reduce the time and money spent by customers to procure, configure, and run IT infrastructure, platforms and software.

But the target of this particular system is to:

  • Give developers and testers hands-on access to IBM software in minutes rather than days or weeks.
  • Provide application developers with an environment to write and run their applications.
  • Allow usage to scale up or down depending on the phase of the project.

As a result, users will have more confidence in the quality of their work and are able to make better informed choices about its hosting environment when they deploy.

Feature overview
The Development and Test beta is a Web application that provides a dashboard for managing Cloud resources, a catalog of images to start with, and a set of APIs (Web service and command line) for accessing assets programmatically.

With it, you can:

  • Provision virtual servers
    An application developer can quickly start up an instance of a server OS, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, that is pre-configured with WebSphere or DB2, for example.

    With an operating system and middleware in place, the developer can try out the software setup or verify that their application works on that particular configuration.

  • Set up virtual development environments
    A developer can request a fully configured IDE instance, such as the Eclipse-based Rational Software Architect, and connect to it using a virtual desktop like FreeNX.

    Alternatively, the user can integrate with a hosted instance of Rational source control, automated testing, and project management software from the physical workstation they already use.

  • Save and extend configurations
    Once the team is satisfied with the product or system at a point in time, they can save a snapshot image of the configured instance.

    That image can then be used as a template from which to create new instances that can be shared with others. Those images can also be tagged as a test release or captured as a known good savepoint to build upon.

    Beyond the catalog of pre-configured IBM software stacks in the system now, IBM is working with partners to add third-party pre-configured packages on the Cloud.

In all cases, the user acquires the resources s/he needs right away without the need to find and run hardware or download, install and configure software.

This shortens project start time, reduces time spent on configuration trial and error, allows for more development iterations in the schedule given the same project length.

If you want to get a hands on introduction now, have a look at the developerWorks overview article or user guide (PDF).

Otherwise, if you want to hear my take how I think this particular Cloud platform can make life a whole lot easier for anyone involved in software development, read on.

New possibilities
Since this approach reduces much of the time and money to get hardware and set up software, several new possibilities and potential use cases come to mind.

Imagine the following scenarios that can be made possible or made much easier:

  • You are an innovator who needs a place to demo an early prototype to potential investors in order to justify further development.
  • You are a developer who has created an application on your laptop with a Personal or Express edition of IBM software and you want to see if it will run on a WebSphere and DB2 server to see if there are unexpected differences.
  • You are an independent software vendor who has verified your software on Tomcat (or PHP) and MySQL and wants to widen your potential customer base to include those customers who have an IBM infrastructure.
  • You are a committer to an open source project, and you want to replicate an issue reported by a user and and debug it using the configuration they have on their system.
  • You are a student who wants to build skills or experience hands on or do comparative research between operating systems and software vendors.
  • You are a standards body member, such as for ODF or Java EE, and want to see how a vendor implementation adheres to the specifications.
  • You are an author, you can make sure your readers have a copy of your sample code.
  • You are an instructor, you can make sure your students have an identical setup to reduce class prerequisite setup time.
  • You are a system administrator, and you want to test out an upgrade on an identical server before committing changes that are time-consuming or difficult to reverse on your own system.

Sound interesting?
The Development and Test on the IBM Cloud beta is available to use for free right now. In the coming weeks, a paid, stable and supported version will be available that charges on a usage basis.

If you want to take it for a spin, have a look at the developerWorks overview article or user guide (PDF) in order to get started with the beta. The support page offers forums, FAQs and getting started videos.

You may also want to follow the new developerWorks section and join the user community to learn more about this platform in particular and Cloud computing in general.

If you’re interested in the upcoming paid version check out the data sheet (PDF) on the IBM Middleware Services page. This video also makes a compelling introduction.

Enjoy, and don’t forget to check back here in the coming weeks to see those step-by-step PHP/DB2 and Tomcat/WebSphere tutorials.

Updated draft MySQL to DB2 migration guide

05 November 2009 » DB2, IBM, MySQL, PHP, Writing

Update: The final Redbook has now been published.

Whei-Jen Chen and Angela Carlson have prepared an updated and more comprehensive draft of the venerable MySQL to DB2 Conversion Guide to cover migrations from MySQL 5.1 to DB2 9.7.

The original version of this IBM Redbook published five years ago looked at migrating database applications from MySQL 4.0 to DB2 8.1.

Chapter 6 of Developing PHP Applications for IBM Data Servers extended the first edition three years ago by showing the changes required to migrate from MySQL 5.0 using the PHP mysql_* and improved mysqli_* extensions to DB2 8.2 using the Unified ODBC (odbc_*), the new IBM DB2 driver (db2_*) and PDO_IBM.

This new draft edition is still undergoing review – I’ve already sent along some comments and contributions from my field notes – and the authors are still accepting suggestions and reviews before they produce the finalized version.

So have a look a the draft, and get your comments to the authors. Otherwise, if you think it’s perfect as is, you can just rate it 5 stars all around. :)

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.

Spring and Grails apps on the Cloud

Some very interesting news from SpringSource this morning. They just continue to fire on all cylinders.

SpringSource has acquired Cloud Foundry, which enables you to set up the hosting environment for your Spring Framework and Groovy on Grails applications in minutes.

Cloud Foundry is built from the ground up to be the fastest way to deploy and manage Spring, Grails, and Java web applications in the cloud. Deployment using Cloud Foundry is a quick two-step process with the web application that you have created using the development tool of your choice:

  1. Upload your Spring, Grails, or Java web application to Cloud Foundry
  2. Select your deployment blueprint (topology, instance type, clustering, auto-scaling configuration, etc.) and launch it in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

That’s it. Your application is now live and serving requests without fumbling with Amazon Web Services (AWS) APIs, bare-metal virtual machines, software installation and configuration, file transfers, and other tedious tasks.

So, instead of securing a hosting environment (whether through a third party service or in your own data center) you can provision space on the Cloud to eliminate the system, network, and middleware setup and maintenance steps.

In effect, it’s AOP writ large, abstracting away the cross-cutting middleware dependencies of your application into a separate component so you can instead focus on your business problem rather than many non-functional requirements.

In this way, I see this finally bridging the gap for small to medium sized applications that traditionally would rely on shared hosting for LAMP applications.

That is, as a freelancer or small agency you’ve now removed a major roadblock to deploying a small site on Spring or Grails rather than PHP and MySQL.

As of today, the Cloud Foundry instances for Spring support Apache 2.2, SpringSource tc Server (Tomcat 6) or Tomcat 5.5, and MySQL 5.0.

Though since this is all provisioned via Amazon’s EC2 service that supports DB2, I wonder how easy it would be to bring that data server into an application instance…

Very interesting indeed.

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