The failure of PHP5

The release of PHP5 was a very significant change for PHP. It brought much needed improvements to make PHP more acceptable for enterprises and amateur developers who were considering other languages/environments (Python, Ruby, Java, .Net..). But now, over a year later, PHP4 is still the default at most web hosts and many PHP developers have been heavily exposed to alternative and more productive environments.

I don't mean to say that PHP isn't a nice web programming language, it's just that I don't see any reason for PHP to keep the more or less total dominance it has had for a few years. With PHP4 lacking in important areas like object orientation and XML support and PHP5 failing to pick up mainstream hosting support, open minded PHP developers looking for a more advanced environment have been exposed to multiple alternatives.

As a Python convert I have found Python to be better structured and a lot clearer than PHP but the current leader in the challenger pack is Ruby (the Ruby on Rails framework to be specific).

Massive amounts of publicity have lead to beginning mainstream adoption with hosts like Site5 and Thinkhost supporting it. I think this development will continue with increasing host support for Ruby (on Rails) and while the 'alternative' window is open some web hosts will improve their support for other languages. Today's Python support is often limited to CGI and an old version like 2.2 with at best a few 3rd party modules available.

This implies that mainstream web hosts will expand into the market of geek hosts like GrokThis.net and TextDrive but the market for geek hosting will increase. What I mean with geek hosts are web hosts who are focusing more on supporting different programming languages/environments than mainstream web hosts whose focus is more directed at hosting readymade open source applications (PHPBB, Wordpress etc..).

2006 consequences of Moore's law.

Moore's law will still influence web hosting in 2006 but the direction will be a little different. Further increases of disk space and data transfer quotas are just not needed for most webmasters so the extra resources can now be directed towards extra services. An example of this is Site5's new backup service called Flashback. I can't predict what will be offered but expect some creative uses of server resources to capture hosting customers.

Virtual private servers

Moore's law and PHP5 combined will also have consequences. With more focus on alternative programming environments and more resources a natural development is increased availability of virtual private servers at low prices. And also environments to make a VPS more manageable for less geeky webmasters.

I'm not clairvoyant but it's fun to pretend :-)