eZ systems' new strategy and the PHP market

Today eZ systems published an article entitled Platform and Solutions Strategy by Aleksander Farstad, CEO eZ systems.

This article sheds a light on the big picture why eZ systems develops the eZ platform and how this relates to the eZ publish CMS. It also talks about eZ systems planning to offer various other software solutions on top of the eZ platform.

In this blog entry, I won’t talk about the article itself because it speaks for itself. Instead, I will have a look at how does eZ systems’ strategy relate to the PHP market?

Mature market

First of all, eZ systems is the first company in the PHP application development domain that I know of, which actually announces such a long-term strategy. I am not talking about purely technical sofware roadmaps, I am talking about the combination of business and software development. This is a novelty in the PHP market.

This shows that the PHP market has matured substantially, that companies like eZ systems have grown big enough in terms of resources and experience so that they can envisage a long-term strategy of that scope. It also means that there is demand in the market for long-term planning, mature enterprise-grade software and related services.

The PHP-way

When looking at the eZ platform, the PHP platform by eZ systems, one could argue that PHP simply follows Java and that this is what J2EE offers. Nevertheless, there is a good reason why eZ systems does not simply port J2EE to PHP or any other software platform: there is something like the PHP-way of doing things. eZ systems has a market track-record of 6 years in PHP development, they know about the best practices that have emerged by using PHP.

PHP developers think in a different way compared to Java developers. There’s a subtle difference in approaching problems, that can make a big difference when you look at the actual solution. What the new eZ systems strategy tells us is: PHP has reached a level where it has proven that it can serve as a serious alternative for solving highly complex software problems.

Market-driven approach

About 2 years ago, International PHP Magazine published an article of mine about “PHP5EE” where I wrote, that it needs more companies who further develop the market for generic PHP platforms. We are at this point today.

Note that PHPLIB and PEAR are both community projects. Yes, they also had a commercial background, because in most cases they evolved from customer projects, but there was no business model behind those projects, rather a community model. With eZ components, the PHP components library by eZ systems, the first serious project in that area driven by one company has been introduced.

This evolution is in sync with the typical evolution of an Open Source market that starts off with community-driven projects being accompanied by more and more similar company-driven projects.

For example, PEAR provides object-oriented PHP libraries and has established a community. It has actually proven that there is a need for something like that in the PHP world and that it can be done with PHP. A growing market for OO PHP libraries evolved and there came up the need for a party doing constant maintenance, guaranteed support and related services. This is where eZ components backed up by eZ systems came in.

Raising the standard

eZ platform will be more then just eZ components, it will also include the eZ application server and various
functionality plugins. With eZ platform, eZ systems will raise the standard for what a PHP platform is supposed to be. Companies that still neglect PHP might then consider its usage. Due to the fact that eZ platform will be Open Source, there is a big chance that the whole PHP market will profit from that.