Living without Your Linemen: The Programmer Becomes System Operator in the Cloud

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If a website architect is the quarterback, then site operations is the offensive line—overworked, underappreciated, and only noticed when it fails. They make you look good. However, four years ago cloud computing networks like Amazon Web Services and Slicehost have appeared. While deficiencies in frameworks in other languages have forced those worlds to adopt Infrastructure-as-a-Service, the PHP world—with it’s ultra-cheap shared-hosting (on one end) and tradition of dominance on some of the most trafficked websites (on the other)—has been slow to move. But as the technology continues to disrupt, modern web engineers will be expected to use their programming skills to not only build, but also provision and maintain fast, scalable websites.

The efficiencies of a web-based language and experience in scalable website architecture offer a unique opportunity for programmers to transfer their skills when wearing a sysop hat. Not to mention some of the best libraries for programming them are written in PHP! When going from a small pet project to a go-live site, maybe we can learn to live without our linemen.

Photo of Terry Chay

Terry Chay

Clara Health

If Zend puts your picture on a deck of cards, you’ve either arrived in the PHP world or are a terrorist. Terry Chay is a PHP Terrorist. He works at WordPress, and, when he isn’t doing that, he’s saying outrageous things on his blog—which is also like working on WordPress. In previous lives he architected the third largest social network in the U.S. in PHP, developed the largest revenue-generating product in PHP for Plaxo (later purchased by Comcast) as their first web engineer, programmed the communication layer between an internet-enabled home control device and the web browser, voice portals, PDAs and cell phones via SOAP and XMLRPC in PHP, and built the first travel search engine in… PHP (surprise)! He gives seminars in PHP development, which is really just a veiled excuse to play with Keynote.