Zend Server is known for its ability to maximize the performance of production PHP applications. Here’s a brief breakdown on ten different features in Zend Server that help you do just that.
#1 PHP 7 stack
Zend Server includes the only certified, secure, and complete PHP 7 stack that’s highly performing and backed by enterprise-grade support. It also incorporates PHP extensions that have been thoroughly tested and optimized, including OPcache – a bytecode cache for PHP which innately improves the page load of your applications.
#2 PHP 7 itself
Okay, this is kind of cheating, but the explosive performance gains of PHP 7 itself is worth its own place on the list. To quote Zeev Suraski from his blog:
As more and more people are trying PHP 7 out, we’re seeing more and more evidence that the promise of 2x performance is being realized, big time.
Z-Ray helps you find performance issues early on in the development cycle by giving you deep and live insight into all the PHP elements constructing your page.
For example, using Z-Ray you’ll be able to easily identify bad database queries causing a bottleneck, long before it becomes a performance problem in your production environment. We call this left-shifting – the ability to hit those issues early on in development and way before going into production.
Once in production, Z-Ray can be safely used and without affecting performance whatsoever using the Selective Mode – a mechanism that allows secure access to Z-Ray from specific IP ranges, a defined time frame, and for specific URLs.
#4 Code tracing
Zend Server code tracing is like an aircraft flight data recorder for your app, capturing full execution details in real time – in production or in the lab – to help identify the root cause of problems. Code tracing can be activated either manually or automatically triggered when problems occur, to capture function calls, arguments, return values, memory usage, execution times, and more.
This free white paper (PDF) explains how to use code tracing and recommended workflows to reduce time spent on root cause analysis.
Zend Server’s built-in monitoring feature allows you to track performance-related monitoring events that indicate that your environment is displaying uncharacteristic behavior and that something occurred that exceeded your definitions and the standards of how you want your PHP code to run.
Each individual event includes specific information about the occurrence, such as when it happened, how many times it happened, and other details that assist you in diagnosing the event.
For example, the Slow Request Execution event allows you to look specifically at which requests are taking a large amount of time, and then drill down into a code trace to see which exact line of code is causing the problem.
#6 Page caching
The Zend Server Page Cache improves PHP application performance by caching the entire output of PHP scripts (HTML, XML, etc.) while still maintaining dynamic capabilities through an elaborate rules system.
Page caching extends the concept of caching files and applies it to pages. Caching by page facilitates the ability to eliminate situations where the same file is used in multiple instances, such as when the same file is used to redirect to several pages.
As opposed to other caching alternatives (Zend Server Data Cache and Zend Framework Zend Cache), page caching does not require any code changes and can be easily applied to existing applications. Moreover, while other caching solutions still run some code on recurring executions, the cache does not run any code to display the cached content, which results in improved performance.
#7 Data caching
The Zend Data Cache is used to cache different types of data (e.g., strings, arrays, and objects), as well as script output or script output elements for various durations. Items can be stored in shared memory (SHM) or to disk.
Data caching is primarily used when it is impractical or impossible to cache the entire page output, such as when sections of the script are fully dynamic or when the conditions for caching the script are too numerous. An example of this kind of usage is when some of the output is a form: The data may include credit card numbers, addresses, and other kinds of information that should not be cached, for security reasons.
#8 Job Queue
The Zend Server Job Queue provides offline asynchronous processing of tasks and activities that can be run independently of the end-user experience, allowing you to take bits of code and run them on a schedule rather than have them run when someone makes a specific request.
Say you have an e-commerce store with a catalog that needs to be re-indexed periodically. You would rather not have someone perform this task when they happen to think of it or pending user events. Instead, using Job Queue, you can ask Zend Server to run the code on off-peak hours once a week so it doesn’t impact the performance of your production web service.
#9 User interface
Zend Server’s UI enables you to easily fine-tune your environment to suit your needs.
For example, if you’re not using certain PHP extensions or you don’t need a certain Zend Server feature, you can easily turn them off and minimize the memory and processing time that PHP pages require, thus increasing performance and maximizing the number of requests that your hardware can handle at a single point in time.
And last but not least, Zend Server can automatically set you up with PHP running on Nginx, allowing you to enjoy the performance advantages of this modern web server.
That’s it. That’s ten features available in Zend Server that help you maximize the performance of your PHP applications!