NYPHP user group has resumed regular monthly meetings after the summer break. This was a very interesting and unusual presentation. It's also something that I almost missed. (I am so glad I didn't.)
I was quite skeptical about Microsoft trying to pitch their platform to the PHP community. Somehow when developing and rolling out PHP code Windows platform is not something that's at the top of the list of contenders. This is something that Microsoft wants to change. Microsoft is spending money and resources to make it happen. That's quite a change of perspective towards Open Source.
This was a great presentation that covered FastCGI support on IIS, SQL Server driver implementation and Silverlight. It also included demos of configuring and running PHP on IIS server using FastCGI. There were also a lot of audience questions on various topics (most of which were unrelated to PHP). Microsoft has also stepped forward and joined various Open Source groups (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/25/microsoft_gpl/) and is contributing and releasing code under Open Source license.
So what is WISP? Lately there's quite a few four letter acronyms being used on the web. Some of the more common are:
- LAMP - this one is probably the most popular. Linux Apache MySQL PHP. Some people claim that it's Perl vs PHP.
- LAPP - Linux Apache PosgreSQL PHP.
- OLAP - Oracle Linux Apache PHP.
- WISP -Windows IIS SQL Server PHP.
I am sure that there are others. These are the most common ones I've run into.
Quite a few developers develop code on Windows platform and then deploy that code onto their Unix/Linux servers. The reasons why Windows was not considered included concerns about performance, stability and security. Running PHP scripts through the CGI interface is not a viable option for high traffic sites. Using Apache or IIS module on Windows platform has it's own stability implications. Some years ago another standard has emerged and has replaced the old CGI interface. This new standard is FastCGI (http://www.fastcgi.com/). FastCGI is being used as an alternative to native web server modules for various programming languages. For some alternatives to Apache it's also the only option.
A couple of months ago Microsoft has released their own FastCGI implementation for IIS servers. You need to have IIS6 and above in order to take advantage of this module. The benefit is that by implementing this module you get better stability and performance than you could before. It's also a product that Microsoft officially supports. To get more information go to http://www.iis.net/php There you will find a lot of information, articles, tutorials, downloads and support forum for all issues related to running PHP on IIS server.
Microsoft has also released SQL Server driver (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=61BF87E0-D031-466B-B09A-6597C21A2E2A&displaylang=en) a few months ago. Until that time there was no official SQL Server driver that one could use to connect and work with SQL Server from PHP. There were a number of third party implementations that people had to use. It's great to see Microsoft releasing a driver for PHP. I am sure it provides great support for Windows and SQL Server (both are Microsoft products). I am also quite positive that it's more stable and provides better performance than some of the third party alternatives. Microsoft has also released code to ADODB (http://phplens.com/phpeverywhere/?q=node/view/253) project to provide better integration with their SQL Server driver.
Overall a great presentation. I am still waiting for the presenter (Peter Laudati (http://blogs.msdn.com/peterlau/)) to post the slides on his site. I also want to thank him for sharing a lot of great information. This presentation ended quite late and people didn't want to leave. There were also a lot of great prizes courtesy of Microsoft. All of the attendees got a copy of Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition. Microsoft also sponsored food and drinks at TGIF after the presentation.
I am glad to see Microsoft stepping in and trying to convince developers to embrace their platform. I am sure that there's still a lot of great stuff to come. As a PHP developer I would love to know that PHP runs just as well on Windows as it does on other platforms. It's also nice to see that Microsoft cares.