Zend Technologies last week announced the start of a public beta test for Zend Server for i, a new collection of PHP development and runtime tools for System i customers. Interested parties can download the beta of the i OS Edition of Zend Server version 5.0 from the Zend Web site.

Zend offers several PHP stacks, but it describes Zend Server as the "complete, enterprise-ready Web application server" for running PHP workloads. If you had to pick just one Zend runtime environment for executing PHP applications on i OS, and price was not an object, this would probably be the one.

Zend Server includes all of the features found in the Zend Core and Zend Platform, as well as extra functionality in the areas of deployments, application monitoring and optimization, error detection and code tracing, security, and compliance.

Much of the focus on Zend Server version 5.0, which was recently introduced for open systems, has been on the new code-tracing feature, which is aimed at developing faster and more efficient PHP applications.

Specifically, the new code-tracing feature allows developers to identify the root cause of production PHP issues as the PHP program executes, eliminating the need to reproduce them in the lab at a later time. Zend compares the feature to an airline's "black box" flight recorder (except that it works in real-time). System i shops will also be able to take advantage of the code-tracing feature when the i OS Edition is formally shipped.

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