I started a new software consulting company, KOgent Systems LLC., exactly five years ago today.
I was coming from a twenty year consulting career focused primarily on the IBM i. In my previous life, I had worked for two of the largest software tool vendors for the IBM i, and over the previous decade, I had managed an eCommerce solution designed to integrate into all the major ERP systems (i.e., JD Edwards and others). We had implemented 100s of eCommerce projects working within a wide variety of customer markets. The product was well-known in the industry, widely used and the services practice had been profitable under my watch.
Now, I was on my own with a new staff. I had to consider which way to go, and what tools and products I would invest in for the transition to a new development platform. I chose ZEND PHP. Why?
1. Platform Independence
Did I want to be free of the IBM i? No. I was raised on the box, and I’ve had too many successes on the platform to cast aspersions on the technology. But we all know all good things come to an end, and I want the freedom to run anywhere. I want the freedom of choice. Zend PHP provides this choice for me.
2. Legacy Integration
Let’s face it, most of the software development work that I do is integration work into pre-existing packages, and ERPs. I don’t write from scratch anymore. I extend and improve. I extend the life of the legacy applications by transforming them to run on new devices – mobile or the web. The Zend server open source PHP toolkit for the IBM i provides me with this capability. It provides direct integration for all IBM i objects – RPGILE, CL, C, data areas, etc. There is nothing I can’t touch directly – this makes me happy.
3. MVC Architecture
PHP scares some people because they remember the days of SQL injections, and unmaintainable code. Back when PHP was a basic scripting language, it was easy to learn and easy to write code in bad form. The IBM i community has a long memory. This has long changed with the introduction of the modern PHP frameworks. The modern Zend Framework 2 architecture is a true enterprise level OO development platform. Its structure promotes highly modular design while supporting large groups of developers. This is a product built for professionals.
4. Enterprise Level Support
I wanted an open source product with enterprise level support. I want to be able to tell my customers that the chosen technology has a strong support backbone, which means a long life. I don’t want to be the only guy on the block running Python on the IBM i. Yeah, I’m sure it can be done, and it would be cool, I just don’t want to be the only guy doing it.
5. My Gut
Ok, this is the real reason. It felt good. I went with my gut like I always do. I tend to spend a lot of time researching, and analyzing something that my gut told me was the right choice from day one. Remember, this is a blog, I’m allowed to have opinions and back them up with nothing. My gut has never let me down (except for that one time with the redhead in the 8th grade). But otherwise, I tend to go with my gut.
Check back next week when I provide you with some real life examples of how listening to my gut worked out. I will explain how we used Zend PHP to integrate into the IBM i, and SAP running on Linux simultaneously to provide a new B2B site for one of the largest retail chains in the country.