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Microsoft, Zend To Release App Monitor for Developers Working with Azure App Service

Z-Ray to provide productivity enhancements for PHP developers working within Microsoft's managed cloud service.

Microsoft and Zend are working on a solution to provide productivity enhancements for PHP developers working within Microsoft's managed cloud service. Dubbed Z-Ray for Azure, the solution combines Zend's Z-Ray app performance tool with Microsoft's new Azure App Service. The companies expect to complete the integration sometime in Q2.

Zend bills Z-Ray as a kind of app performance X-ray that provides developers with real-time, in-context visibility into the workings of their applications. The tool's coverage includes specific detailed data for several common applications and frameworks, including e-commerce platform Magento, the WordPress blogging tool and a content management system, the Drupal open-source content management platform, the Symfony PHP framework, the IBM i environment, and the Zend Framework.

"Of course, Microsoft isn't targeting only the PHP developer," Zend CEO Andi Gutmans told ADTmag. "So that upgrade in particular made Z-Ray more interesting to them."

Unveiled in March, Azure App Service combines three previously stand-alone products: Azure Websites (Web Apps), Azure Mobile Services, and Azure BizTalk Services. The integrated solution was created to streamline development, while enabling easy integration with on-premises and SaaS, said Bill Staples, VP of Microsoft's App Platform group, at the time. Staples described the new service in a blog post as a "one-of-a kind cloud service that enables developers to build web and mobile apps for any platform and any device."

With this integration the companies are aiming to improve the productivity of PHP developers. But the broader aim of the strategic partnership between Zend and Azure is to provide tools for "differentiating the development and runtime experience for the cloud developer," Gutmans said. The Z-Ray integration is just the first proof-point of that partnership. "This integration will definitely benefit PHP developers," he said "but it's also part of a larger go-to-market strategy around some of these other communities. There are other things we will be working on."

Z-Ray will be integrated tightly into the Azure App Service environment, Gutmans explained, so that developers will be able to turn it on with a click. A developer dashboard will provide visibility into code and application performance with information on the PHP language, PHP frameworks used, and PHP-based applications, without changing the dev's workflow. And the tool's Z-Ray Live! technology provides support for mobile and API development.

"Developers, and more specifically open source developers, are the New Kingmakers who determine platform adoption," said RedMonk analyst Stephen O'Grady, in a statement. "This is particularly true in the cloud, which is why Microsoft and Zend partnering around Z-Ray to improve the Azure developer experience is an important step for PHP developers."

Since Zend introduced Z-Ray it has become something of a cornerstone of the company's "shift left" strategy, which aims to move testing and validation to an earlier stage of the software lifecycle.

Z-Ray represents Zend's latest response to emerging market requirements for faster and more agile app delivery, Gutmans said, and the resulting focus on continuous delivery practices. Zend defines "continuous delivery" as "collaborative, iterative approaches that apply automation to all steps of moving an application from development to production." In October the company published its first Blueprints for Continuous Delivery. Built on Zend Server, the Blueprints are a codification of best practices for each step of the software delivery cycle designed to organize them into a single, iterative process.

"Agility and productivity are key drivers to cloud platform decisions, and developers are at the epicenter of making those choices," said IDC analyst Al Hilwa. "By jointly integrating Z-Ray at the Azure PaaS-level, Zend & Microsoft deliver a unique new view of app behavior and performance which enables strong developer productivity and quality in the cloud."

About the Author

John has been covering the high-tech beat from Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area for nearly two decades. He serves as Editor-at-Large for Application Development Trends (www.ADTMag.com) and contributes regularly to Redmond Magazine, The Technology Horizons in Education Journal, and Campus Technology. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Everything Guide to Social Media; The Everything Computer Book; Blobitecture: Waveform Architecture and Digital Design; John Chambers and the Cisco Way; and Diablo: The Official Strategy Guide.

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