Zend's Pavlak shows RPG developers how to utilize open-source CMS platforms to create a free company intranet.
With the new Power processors, many IBM i administrators are finding they have extra horsepower on their systems that can be put to good use running a Web-based company intranet.
OCEAN users who attended the user group's all-day training session and workshops last Tuesday learned how to use open-source Drupal and Joomla! content-management systems on their IBM i Power Systems to provide a flexible and powerful intranet for their corporate, government, or nonprofit users.
Mike Pavlak, solutions consultant at Zend Technologies, Inc., and Jeff Olen, owner of Olen Business Consulting, presented a day of training to some 60 OCEAN members on PHP and its many implementations using Zend's enabling technologies on the IBM i.
Most of the audience consisted of RPG programmers interested in creating new career opportunities for themselves and new solutions to enhance the value of their AS/400, System i, or Power System faithfully running the same old applications (albeit mission-critical ones) day in and day out.
In a presentation titled "Bring Your Intranet to the IBM i with Drupal and Zend Server," Pavlak introduced users to the new Drupal 7 content-management system released earlier in January and showed attendees how to install it on their IBM i using Zend Server for IBM i and the MySQL open-source database. Zend Technologies, which has made a business of providing tools, training, and consulting for users and companies moving to the PHP language, has partnered with IBM to enhance the value of Big Blue's midrange platform by supporting the IBM i. IBM now includes Zend Server for IBM i, a next-generation PHP stack, with all new shipped Power Systems running IBM i. Zend Server includes two products, Zend Server for IBM i Community Edition, available at no charge, and Zend Server for IBM i for which a subscription is available from Zend and which includes high-value features and a higher support service-level agreement.
Mike Pavlak, Zend Technologies solution consultant, goes over installation of Drupal on the IBM i for OCEAN user group members during an all-day training session on PHP in January.
Administrators looking to modernize their IBM i platform and move applications to the Web can do so with PHP, and Zend offers numerous training sessions and online Webinars to help them get there. The company also offers a crack team of PHP experts available for consulting engagements to advise or actually implement many of the modernization solutions possible using PHP and Zend Server for IBM i.
Pavlak noted that many companies may be running an outdated intranet on less-reliable Windows platforms while their more stable IBM i now has capacity to burn. Installing Drupal or Joomla! on the IBM i makes sense for a number of reasons, including the fact that both of the basic content-management systems are open source and available for download at no charge. Thousands of specialty application modules and templates for both Drupal or Joomla! are available from independent solution providers at a nominal charge (in the neighborhood of $100 apiece). The MC Press Online Web site is built on Joomla! 1.5 and uses a number of these modules.
Zend has realized that by using the IBM i, MySQL, and Drupal, users can take advantage of an open-source solution that leverages their existing hardware and software investment in IBM i without a capital expenditure. It can be easy and fast to install an open-source PHP application on the IBM i and implement a useful and stable company intranet using one of these open-source solutions.
Though Zend has bundled MySQL into Zend Server for IBM i, many users question whether it makes sense to install another database, such as MySQL, onto the IBM i when its crowning glory is the built-in DB2 database. It's possible, however, to store all data in DB2 while running an application that talks to MySQL. This is possible because the DB2 storage engine delivered by MySQL AB and IBM has two layers—an interface layer and a storage layer—allowing for all data to be stored in DB2. Of course, this also gives RPG applications access to the data.
MySQL is the most popular database in use by PHP applications, and there are hundreds of PHP applications available written to MySQL, including CRM systems, portals, content management systems, wikis, blogs, and forums. Sites to check for these include Hot Scripts, PHPJunkYard, and PHP Freaks. Although Oracle has withdrawn support for the binaries needed to run MySQL on IBM i 6.1 and earlier, it is likely that IBM will soon come forward with a solution. See "Oracle Drops the Ball with MySQL on the i. Will IBM or Zend Pick It Up and Run With It?" by author Tom Snyder.
With the advent of Drupal 7, developers have a platform that is improved over previous versions and allows for customization as never before. While Joomla! is an offshoot of another now fully developed content management system, Mambo, Drupal (Dutch for water droplet) was the brainchild of Dries Buytaert, who started it somewhat incidentally as part of his PhD studies in LAN technology. Drupal now is the content-management system used by the White House at www.whitehouse.gov/ and thousands of other Web sites. Users can get a sense for what Drupal is by trying it online at Drupal Gardens.
Pavlak explained the steps to installing Drupal onto your IBM i, which we list here for your convenience. Other resources for installing it along with Zend Server for IBM i can be found on the Zend Web site and at the following URLs:
- Download Drupal
- Move to the IFS
- Create database
- Run install script
For detailed information on installing Drupal to your IBM i, see Pavlak's presentation. Some users have reported issues when installing to the IBM i as noted in the Zend forums, so check these along with the Drupal Web site, which posts detailed installation instructions, for all suggestions and configuration information before beginning. You may wish to install it on a test machine or environment first in order to ensure it is working properly before deploying to your production machine.
PHP on the IBM i has made available a wide variety of free or low-cost solutions and presented opportunities for developers to enhance the value of their Power Systems hardware as well as their own talents. Learning PHP and moving IBM i applications to the Web is a useful and profitable endeavor benefiting organizations, users, and developers alike.
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