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Microsoft promotes the careers of PHP professionals

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Microsoft is launching a new initiative to promote the careers of PHP professionals.

This article presents an interview with a Microsoft manager to explain in more details what is this initiative and how the PHP professionals may take advantage of it.

Loaded Article

- Introduction

- Is PHP really ready for the enterprise market?

- How can you adapt to the enterprise market that prefers using Microsoft technologies?

- Interview about Microsoft initiative to promote the careers of PHP professionals

- Conclusion

- Introduction

Sometimes we hear complaints from PHP professionals that they are not as well paid when compared with those that work with other technologies, such as Java and .NET.

It is essential for the PHP professionals that want to focus their efforts in evolving their careers and improve their income, to understand why those professionals that work with other technologies are better paid.

- Is PHP really ready for the enterprise market?

This is a recurring question that we often see being asked among the PHP community. I would say that is the wrong question to ask. Whether PHP is technically ready or not for the enterprise market is not really an issue. Let me explain.

It is obvious that the businesses can pay better salaries are the large companies.

However, it is worth noting that PHP is a free technology that runs on any kind of Web server without great costs. That fact allowed PHP to become very popular. There are many companies providing PHP hosting services at very low costs. They host many thousands of clients in a single Web server.

This fact ended up attracting a large number of professionals that can address the needs of many individuals and small businesses by developing sites for them at very low prices.

But PHP can also be used to address the needs of larger companies that can afford more expensive development and hosting services. So why those companies often prefer using Java and .NET?

I am sure that the problem is not whether PHP is technically ready or not for the enterprise market, but rather the fact that many PHP professionals are not ready to address the needs of larger companies.

I think the greatest problem of those PHP professionals is the (lack of) perception of what are really the needs of those companies.

Large companies have specific needs that need to be addressed according to what they think it the right thing to do. After all, if they are paying, it should be up to them to decide what they want and how they want it.

One of the problems that is often noted in some PHP professionals, is the fact that not only they try to push PHP solutions to the clients, but also try to push the whole LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) stack. After all it is the platform they have more experience.

However, the reality of the larger companies is not compatible with that mentality. If a customer company wants to work with Linux, that is fine. However, many companies only work with Windows and other Microsoft products like IIS and SQL server.

Even if in certain cases it may not seem technically adequate to use such Microsoft products, the client is in charge and should be the one to decide.

It is important to understand that the reason why larger companies became so loyal to Microsoft is because they take it as a "safe harbour". That is the reason why not only they invested a lot in Microsoft software licenses, but they also hired trained professionals that are specialists in Microsoft technologies.

For this reason, the PHP professional that has the ambition to progress in his career, he must be agnostic in terms of the platforms that he knows and has experience to develop PHP applications.

Only this way he may become ready to work in the enterprise market, regardless whether the companies in that market prefer using Linux, Windows, or something else.

- How can you adapt to the enterprise market that prefers using Microsoft technologies?

PHP is a language that can be used to easily develop applications that can deal with specific aspects of each platform.

To adapt to the needs of companies that have chosen Microsoft products, it is necessary to integrate the PHP applications with those products.

A very common example of this kind of needs, which by the way appears often in PHP mailing lists, is the integration of the authentication in intranet sites with the Windows logon.

An user of a Windows based network authenticates on the initial logon screen. When he needs to access an intranet, he will not want to enter the same user name and password in the site pages to authenticate again. It does not make sense to make the user go through a login form page of the intranet site. The site must recognize automatically an user that is already logged on Windows.

The solution for this problem is simple. However, many PHP professionals do not know what to do when they face this situation for the first time. Some give up and even wrongly claim that is something specific of Windows and Internet Explorer.

All you need to do is to activate NTLM authentication in the Web server for the PHP pages that require that the user is logged in. If the Web server is Microsoft IIS, you only need to configure that kind of authentication in IIS configuration panel.

If the Web server is Apache, either running on Windows or Linux, you only need to activate and configure the mod_ntlm module.

From then on, if the user accessing the site is correctly logged, your PHP scripts only need to check the $_SERVER['LOGON_USER'] variable to determine the user name of the logged user. Actually LOGON_USER is the same variable that ASP and ASP.NET applications need to check because it is a setting that does not depend on the programming language that you use.

The is just an example of many things that PHP professionals need to be aware to adapt to the needs of the enterprise market that prefer using Windows and other Microsoft technologies.

But then you may ask: is it sufficient to to learn about these technical aspects about Microsoft products to make the PHP professionals ready to enter in the enterprise market?

I do not think so. Larger companies trust in large brands. Despite many Open Source fans do not want to accept that as a relevant fact, Microsoft is a large brand that inspires the trust of many large companies, which are their customers.

Other large companies also inspire that trust, like for instance: IBM, Oracle, Sun, Google, etc.. But for Microsoft customers, what matters is often what Microsoft supports.

Given this fact, it is important for the PHP professionals the support that Microsoft and other big technology companies can give to PHP. This way PHP professionals can be accepted more easily in the enterprise market, and consequently be better paid.

- Interview about Microsoft initiative to promote the careers of PHP professionals

Considering what was said above, the good news is that Microsoft just launched a new initiative named WebsiteSpark. It aims to promote the careers of PHP and other Web professionals in general that are interested in specializing in the Microsoft technologies.

Therefore I invited Galileu Vieira , a manager of the Microsoft subsidiary in Brazil, to give an interview and clarify what is this initiative and how the PHP professionals may benefit from it.

PC = PHPClasses (Manuel Lemos)
GV = Microsoft (Galileu Vieira)

PC: Can you please talk a bit about who you are, where you work, and what you do in Microsoft?

GV: Hello Manuel. First I would like to thank you for the invitation to this interview. Well, I work in Microsoft Brazil since almost 3 years ago. ...

Recently I started working in the department that takes care of partnership programs. In this department we have a sector dedicated to Web developers and designers, which I am in charge.

Our mission is to help companies that work in the Web market to completely fulfill their potential. To accomplish that mission, we created several programs that address to this audience in the whole country, usually using the Internet and also through events.

The big news is the launch of the WebsiteSpark program. It is dedicated specifically to small businesses and individuals that work as Web developers or Web designers.

PC: Can you give an overview about what is that initiative?

GV: Sure. WebsiteSpark is a program that lasts 3 years and aims providing software, support and visibility to the Web Pros (professionals that work as Web designs and Web developers).

The only requirements to participate are that the Web Pro businesses must have up to 10 employees and provide Web site or Web application creation services.

On the software side, we are giving away the following products:

Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition - 3 licences
Expression Studio 3 - 1 licence
Expression Web 3 - 2 licences
Windows Web Server 2008 R2 - licences for 4 processors (production and development)
SQL Server 2008 Web Edition - licences for 4 processors (production and development)
DotNetPanel Control Panel

On the support side, we are giving away the following benefits:

2 incidents of professional support directly with
Free online training courses
Newsgroups managed inside MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network)
Support from the WebsiteSpark community, like hosting partners, network partners, members of the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN), besides access to MSDN and TechNet.

What we think is more important in this program is to give visibility and generate business opportunities for the Web Pros by the means of:

Partner Solution Profiler - A directory of companies and Microsoft solutions, a part of MPN, which is accessed by more than 170.000 customers
Web App Gallery - A gallery of free PHP and ASP.NET application ready to be installed in the Windows Server with SQL Server, making it easy to create new sites
WebsiteSpark Marketplace - This is the main feature of the program. On the following weeks we are going to launch this marketplace just for the Web Pros that participate in the WebsiteSpark. It will be a site that to advertise your company and your solutions to customers from everywhere around the world.

Other than that, we count with the help of our hosting and official network partners. These are entities specialized on Web matters that provide interesting services to anybody that is starting a business on the Web. You will get access to the WebsiteSpark program by the means of a key provided by these partners.

The program duration is of 3 years. When it ends the participants may migrate to the Microsoft Partner Network. It is a natural step for a small business that has grown during its participation in the WebsiteSpark program.

Finally, there is symbolic cost to be paid for those that participate in WebsiteSpark. In the end of the 3 years of the program, or in case you give up on the program, there is a fee of USD $100 to be paid by the participants. Considering the benefits of the program, we believe this is really a symbolic price.

PC: In your program you are going to provide to the PHP professionals training courses to help them specialize in Microsoft technologies. Do you intend to offer any sort of certification that gives confidence to the companies interested in hiring these professionals about their capabilities to deal with issues of PHP integrated with Microsoft products?

GV: We will provide a series of training courses precisely focused on the Microsoft platform beginners.

For PHP developers, we will teach how to install, configure and run PHP applications on the Windows platform. I am aware that many find that an odd thing, PHP on Windows, but that is a reality.

We have a gallery of Web applications for Windows that already include Wordpress, DotNetNuke, PHPBB, SugarCRM, Kentico, among others. We also expect to get more Web applications from the community, as this gallery is open to receive solutions from the community.

Regarding certification, that is part of the Microsoft Partner Network program. Every WebsiteSpark participant will have the chance to enter automatically, and without costs, in the Microsoft Partner Network.

MPN is our main program for Microsoft partners. As part of that program we provide training, certification and validation of solutions with discounted prices. Therefore I recommend that you enter in the MPN when you register in WebsiteSpark.

PC: Do you have any other initiatives, past or future, of interest for PHP developers like this one, that you would like to mention?

GV: I recommend that you learn about Windows Azure on these sites: ...

PC: What do you recommend that interested PHP developers do to participate and help in initiatives like this?

GV: Do not be shy, contact us. We have several professionals that understand very well the PHP world and Microsoft. They are available
to help you both on technical and business matters.

We also have several programs to support initiatives of the PHP community, such as events and meetings.

- Conclusion

Definitely, Microsoft has changed, or at least part of Microsoft is changing. This change is mostly due to the initiatives of a Microsoft division known as "Microsoft Open Source Labs", which sometimes is called just "Interoperability".

This division is directed by Sam Ramji. I met Sam personally in the "Microsoft WebDev Summit" in 2008. That was a closed event that happened at Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, to which many well known PHP developers were invited.

In the beginning it was odd for me because in my daily life I do not even use Windows. However, everything started making sense gradually, as I explained in this article that I published a little while after the event. ...

Sam has been a visionary that gradually opened doors inside and outside Microsoft, demonstrating that is neither too soon nor too late for Microsoft to adopt a posture with the Open Source world that is more cooperative and less competitive.

There are difficulties to convince people on both sides that there are benefits in this cooperation. Willing or not, the world of proprietary software has to live with the world of Open Source and vice-versa.

Radical postures on both sides are not compatible with the reality because they do not lead us anywhere. Therefore it is about time to open your mind and cooperate on matters that both sides have a lot to gain.

For Microsoft, the main benefit is to augment the base of customers that want to use products written in PHP, but they can run them together with Windows, IIS, SQL Server among many other Microsoft products.

For the PHP developers, the main benefit is the chance to get better paid jobs and opportunities to sell their PHP products to a much large customer base that is used to pay for software licenses.

Even those more radical that do not want to use anything from Microsoft under any circunstance, they can still benefit indirectly from this Microsoft initiative.

What is expected to happen, as more PHP developers get better paid jobs working for Microsoft customers, gradually the average salaries of qualified PHP developer will grow.

The marked of businesses that do not use Microsoft technologies will have to keep up with the raise of average wages in order to keep the PHP professionals that work for them. It is a natural consequence of the law of offer and demand.

At the same time, since Microsoft will offer training courses to the PHP professionals, it is expected that the number of under-qualified PHP professionals decreases. PHP as language will continue to gather reputation and respect in the market.

Therefore everybody will benefit. And if you agree that everybody benefits, I think this Microsoft initiative can only be a good thing.

What do you think? Whether you agree or not, feel free to comment.

Also if you have further questions to ask Microsoft about the WebsiteSpark program, feel free to post them here and I will make sure they provide an answer.

Update: You may go to this to learn more about the WebsiteSpark program:

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18. PHP - Josh (2010-10-10 04:32)
PHP Developers Deserve More... - 0 replies
Read the whole comment and replies

17. Why would MS support PHP? - Scott Deagan (2009-10-19 20:09)
Is Microsoft really friend or foe to the PHP community?... - 3 replies
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1. All Fake - Jordan (2009-10-04 17:10)
Microsoft isn't doing good... - 10 replies
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16. NTLM - RONALD ROUSH (2009-10-02 17:36)
Need more info on this...... - 1 reply
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15. Promotes? - Ricardo Martins (2009-10-02 17:32)
They wont to promote anything.... - 0 replies
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4. Funny - joe davis (2009-10-02 03:18)
Sounds like someone is losing market share...... - 6 replies
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12. The truth about PHP & Microsoft! - David White (2009-10-01 22:51)
Are PHP developers really less qualified as described here?... - 4 replies
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14. The Question really is: Is MS ready for PHP?! - David White (2009-09-30 20:45)
Are PHP developers really less qualified as described here?... - 0 replies
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11. Critic - Tom Schaefer (2009-09-30 19:54)
No Firefox, no Safari etc.... - 1 reply
Read the whole comment and replies

10. Great article but.... - Andrew (2009-09-30 19:31)
How hard is it to run a grammar check?... - 2 replies
Read the whole comment and replies


6. Microsoft lanza el programa WebsiteSpark (2009-10-21 14:05)
Microsoft ha lanzado la iniciativa para promover las carreras de los profesionales de PHP...

5. Microsoft and PHP (2009-10-02 09:46)
Sometimes the world around us changes so fast that we even changed how I feel...

4. Windows Authentication no PHP (2009-09-30 18:49)
Windows Authentication ou Autenticação Integrada no PHP não poderia ser tão fácil...

3. Open source vetrici iz Microsofta (2009-09-30 13:07)
U nekoliko prethodnih postova (pre jedne i pre dve godine) najavljivao sam promene u Microsoftovoj politici koje idu na ruku open source profesionalcima...

2. Blog: Microsoft promotes the careers of PHP professionals | Webs Developer (2009-09-30 10:01)
On the blog today Manuel Lemos has posted a new entry with an interview from a Microsoft representative (Galileu Vieira) about their latest effort to help out the web development market - the WebsiteSpark program...

1. Microsoft promove as carreiras dos profissionais de PHP (2009-09-29 21:55)
O titulo dessa postagem foi tirado de uma entrevista do, cujo link esta logo abaixo, bom, não eh de hoje que a microsoft tem, deliberadamente puxando o saco, ajudado os desenvolvedores PHP, criando tecnologias para adaptar a linguagem com tecnologias da empresa como .net, e criando ferramentas que trabalham com ambas tecnologias...

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