Zend, the commercial backer of PHP, is now offering another choice.
Zend Core 2.0, the first Zend Core release for the broader PHP community, is a PHP distribution that benefits from additional testing, bundled features, applications and support that also includes an update service. And though it extends PHP in a number of ways, it's still open source.
"Zend Core is our version of PHP; it's a PHP distribution and it's best to look at it as related to PHP as how Red Hat Linux is related to Linux," Mark de Visser, Zend chief marketing officer, told internetnews.com.
Zend Core 2.0 includes the latest PHP 5.2.1 version, which benefits from the joint work between Zend and Microsoft to improve PHP on Microsoft Windows. PHP 5.2.1 was officially released by the PHP.net open source community on Feb. 8.
Zend had previously offered versions of Zend Core specifically for Oracle and IBM DB2.
Additionally Zend Core 2.0 includes MySQL 5.0, which makes PHP-enabling the open source database easier than if PHP and MySQL were to be installed separately.
Zend is now marketing the database support in Zend Core 2.0 as "Universal Database Support," with certified drivers for MySQL, Oracle and IBM databases.
De Visser admitted, however, that thought they've branded the feature as "universal," Zend Core 2.0 does not include support for the PostgreSQL open source database. The Zend Framework, which is a framework for rolling out PHP applications, is also included in Zend Core 2.0. Even though the framework has not yet hit its 1.0 release, De Visser noted that it is maturing rapidly and is already being used for production deployments.
One of the greatest risks facing PHP is out-of-date versions that don't include the latest security update. Zend is taking aim at that risk by including an updater with Zend Core 2.0, so users will receive updates for their PHP components when they're available.
"Zend Core for us is an important product because it is the best insurance people can have to stay current," De Visser explained. "Not only does it implement all the best packages that you can assemble, but with the updater mechanism, Zend Core keeps you current even if more exploits become known and fixed in the community."