Q&A: Upgrading from Zend Core to Zend Server

Zend Core and Zend Platform will reach “end of life” on July 1, 2011. Some of my clients have asked me what this will mean to them. In this article I’ll answer some common questions.

Q. What does “end of life” mean?

A. According to the official announcement,  effective immediately, Zend Core and Zend Platform will no longer be sold except in special circumstances. Support will continue to be offered by Zend, for those customers with a support contract, until July 1, 2011.

Q. What software replaces Zend Core and Zend Platform?

A. Zend Server replaces both Zend Core and Zend Platform.

Q. If I currently use Zend Core/Platform and take no action, will my PHP scripts continue to run on and after July 1?

A. Yes, your PHP scripts will continue to function. The products will still work.

Q. Why should I upgrade to Zend Server?

A. You should upgrade to continue to get security patches, improvements, and, if you have a contract, support (whether at free or paid levels).  In addition, Zend Server comes with the performance-boosting Optimizer+, new versions of the ibm_db2 driver, and PHP 5.3, which offers better memory usage and other benefits.

Q. Do I have to pay?

A. As with Zend Platform, advanced functionality and phone support are chargeable. As with Zend Core, basic functionality comes at no charge to you. The advanced version is called Zend Server. The no-charge version is called Zend Server Community Edition (CE). For more information, see Mike Pavlak’s blog post or ask me for assistance.

Q. Why the two versions of Zend Server?

A. It’s really one version with two modes. If you install the license, you get the advanced functionality. (You can get a trial license that allows you to try the advanced features for 30 days.) If you do not install a license, or after your trial license expires, you’ll have the basic (CE) functionality.

Q. Where can I get a trial license for advanced functionality, such as code tracing and monitoring?

A. http://www.zend.com/en/products/server/license

Q. How do I download Zend Server?

A. For IBM i, go to http://www.zend.com/en/products/server/downloads
and click the “IBM i” tab. Choose an installer for “Zend Server for IBM i (PHP 5.3).” You’ll see one labeled “Windows installer” and one not labeled. The Windows installer might be easier for users less experienced with save files and FTP. The unlabeled one is a smaller download and is fine for anyone comfortable with save files and FTP.

Q. We’re using PHP 5.2.4. Can we continue to use a 5.2.x version of PHP?

A. Zend Server does offer PHP 5.2 versions, but I’d suggest using a 5.3 version if you can. The main thing to watch for is that some 5.2 functions are “deprecated” in 5.3, meaning they still work, but may trigger a warning message. Here is the full list of deprecated functions.

Q. What are the technical differences between Zend Core and Zend Server?

A. One major difference: Zend Server runs under a single native IBM i Apache web server rather than being split between two Apache servers. To see some of the configurations that differ, read my blog post, Differences between Zend Core and Zend Server on IBM i.

Q. Does user NOBODY still run the show (I have it hard-coded in a couple of programs)?

A. No. QTMHHTTP, the default IBM i Apache web server user,  is the new user running the show. You’ll have to replace any NOBODY references with QTMHHTTP references.

Q. Any prerequisites before I install Zend Server?

A. Yes. For the list of prerequisites, go to the Zend Server resources page and find the heading “Zend Server for IBM i.” Underneath, click on “Release Notes.”  Be sure to install the most current HTTP Group PTF level. If you do that, you’ll automatically be installing the FastCGI PTFs as well. Here are IBM’s instructions for checking your HTTP group level.

Q. Can I run Zend Server at the same time as Zend Core?

A. Yes. If you run them simultaneously, you should make a configuration change to PHP.INI regarding PHP sessions, to ensure that your Core and Server session files do not collide.  In /usr/local/zendsvr/etc/php.ini, add these lines:

; Keep Zend Server's session data separate from Zend Core's.
; Be sure to actually create the /tmp/ZS folder first.
session.save_path = "/tmp/ZS"

Q. The release notes say that I should remove previous versions of Zend Server and any older version of the FastCGI PTFs. Do I have to do that?

A. Only if you previously installed a beta version of Zend Server. Most likely, you didn’t install those FastCGI PTFs unless you installed Zend Server before.

Q. Is upgrading to Zend Server worth the trouble?

A. Yes. Besides the importance of being supported, Zend Server will grow with your PHP development efforts, while Core will be frozen at old levels. No need to rush or panic, but do create an upgrade plan. Try to do it before July 1.

If you have more questions or would like a demo of Zend Server’s advanced functionality, get in touch. I’m also offering my clients an affordable block of time to help them upgrade smoothly from Zend Core/ Zend Platform to Zend Server with a minimum of disruption. If you are interested in getting help with your upgrade, write to me on my contact page and specify “Upgrade help.”

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