PHP in 2007: Serious Business

December 31st, 2007 by Ivo

Unfortunately, Derick Rethans just announced that this year he will do no more PHP lookback. Derick: thanks for the years that you wrote them, and let's hope someone else will take over.

When I look back at 2007, what strikes me most is how strong a foothold PHP has gained in business environments. Sure, overall PHP usage has been steadily growing as always, but PHP is seen more and more in large corporations. Sometimes next to java (a common scenario is a java J2EE backend with a PHP frontend), but sometimes it's just PHP. I have encountered publishing agencies, retailers, manufacturers and even large insurance companies. They are running internal applications on PHP, and although often their external websites are pretty plain, their internal systems are very critical systems, with cashflows that are depending entirely on applications written in PHP.

I think what we see happening here is very similar to what happened to Linux a few years ago. Started as someone's hobby, adopted by enthousiasts, then for a while growing in popularity as an important OS in internet environments, and finally making its way into the enterprise. It has happened to Linux, to Apache (and its spin-off projects), it is now happening to PHP and I predict for 2008 that we will also see MySQL moving more and more into that direction (it's ubiquitous on the internet already, it just needs to take the leap to the enterprise).

Some say that Ruby was a big threat to PHP in 2007 (thanks to the Ruby on Rails framework). I have flirted a bit with Ruby myself, and language-wise, it's much cleaner and consistent. However, selecting a programming language is not just about the language. It's about factors such as community support, learning curve, installed base, companies supporting it and many more factors, and I think PHP has proven to be pretty strong in that area.

A fact supporting the statement that PHP has become 'serious business' in 2007 is the availability and adoption of 'enterprise' tools. Zend, for example, has always catered to the developer with tools such as their Zend Studio IDE and projects such as Zend Framework, but now they also have tools that the managers of those developers will like, such as Zend Core and Zend Platform; tools focusing on things like productivity, scalability, reliability and several other business-friendly *ity words. This is in line with other components of the LAMP stack: there's already 'Enterprise Linux' and 'Enterprise MySQL'. Zend positions Zend Platform as 'Enterprise PHP' (they're just not calling it that yet ;-) ). It's natural for a company like Zend to move into this direction. I hope that more PHP companies will follow suit and release professional products around PHP, there's definitely a market for tools.

I think however that still the biggest driving force behind PHP aren't the companies, but the community. It's the community that leads; businesses just follow. With many conferences in 2007, it's clear that there's a big PHP community. The community is not just the 'celebrities' that write the language or that speak at conferences, it's everybody working with PHP. I've met many people from the community this year, and hope to meet even more next year.

It's great to be a part of this community!

P.S. It would also be nice to have another PHP Throwdown competition next year, and it would be nice if someone would actually win this time (hi Elizabeth! ;-) ).

5 Responses to “PHP in 2007: Serious Business”

  1. December 31, 2007 at 1:57 am, Ibuildings - Ibuildings Blogs said:

    [...] in 2007 On my personal blog I have written an article about how 2007 was a year where PHP strengthened its position in the business world. Being a PHP service company, this naturally had an impact on Ibuildings. Our team of [...]

  2. January 01, 2008 at 6:21 pm, » Community News: PHPers Look Back at 2007 said:

    [...] Ivo Jansch [...]

  3. January 01, 2008 at 10:00 pm, Community News: PHPers Look Back at 2007 | MT-Soft Website Development said:

    [...] Ivo Jansch [...]

  4. January 05, 2008 at 5:00 pm, Cal Evans said:

    Hi Ivo!

    It’s been fun to watch Ruby the past few weeks, especially this past week with Zed’s post. I saw someone voice what I’ve been saying for a while now, Ruby got as far as it did because O’Reilly propped it up and promoted the heck out of it. However, I don’t think that even Tim the Enchanter can stop the slide now. Ruby is good and Rails is good, for their applications…but in most areas they do not compete with PHP.

    Oh and I’ll take my share of the blame for PHP Throwdown failing, I was one of the judges that let Liz down. :)


  5. June 03, 2008 at 5:20 pm, Agel Enterprises said:

    I think IT`s not good business for the regular person and to what happened to Linux a few years ago.