OK, I know I promised a post on how NULL in Oracle scares me, but I think I’ll save that for another day. For the moment, I’ve had something else on my mind recently. Someone I know is apparently of the opinion that PHP is “on the way out.” I have to vehemently disagree with this, and not just because PHP is my language of preference.
For starters, there are major corporations that are actively using PHP. Yahoo, current employer of Sara Golemon, is a great example. Facebook, a social networking site whose advertising program threatens Google Adsense enough that they created the Open Social initiative and brought in other companies in order to compete, is another.
While usage of PHP took a slight dip about two years ago, probably due in part to hype growing popularity and advances in other technologies like .NET and Ruby as well as the low adoption rate of PHP 5, its use is back on the rise. The performance improvements and addition of new OOP features are only making PHP a better, more well-rounded solution for the enterprise.
Major corporations are finally getting away from fearing competition from the open source community and are starting to embrace it. Oracle has collaborated with Zend to enable them to produce Zend Core for Oracle. The Oracle Technology Network web site has a dedicated section for PHP Developers as well as a manual and a cookbook. Oracle develops the OCI8 PHP PDO driver and have made fairly recent updates to it to support database resident connection pooling, fast application notification, and other notable 11g features. (Check out Chris Jones’ blog for more info on that project.) Oracle is also beginning to release a substantial number of projects, particularly developer tools, as open source software.
Oracle isn’t the only one, either. Microsoft has even started getting into the game. A FastCGI add-on is now available for IIS 6, Microsoft’s web server. FastCGI is frequently used when Apache is not being run or running PHP as an Apache module is not an option for other reasons, such as shared hosting services that want to support both PHP 4 and PHP 5 on the same machine, so this is quite the boon for Microsoft shops. Microsoft is getting involved in the production of a new PHP database driver for SQL Server 2005. I can say on personal authority that multiple Microsoft representatives were present at ZendCon 2007 and made a presentation to the conference attendees on that very subject.
So this all seriously begs this question: why are these corporations, some of which have been specifically shown to be opposed to open source, now trying to play nice? Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, anyone? If you can’t beat them, join them? OK, enough cliche anecdotes. I think I’ve made my point here. PHP isn’t going anywhere and it’s certainly not “on the way out.” These companies are putting a significant time and energy into supporting integration with their products by open source software and I don’t think they’d make that investment if PHP’s overall outlook was limited to the short-term.
I don’t believe it was ever the specific intention of the open source movement to compete with large companies and their proprietary products, but merely to fill a gap in software needs perceived by the consumer. As such, I find a particular quote by Sun Tzu, author of “The Art of War,” to be appropriate here: “For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”