On the highly controversial decision to move the London MMUG web site to PHP

Following the 1.5 day outage at the MMUG (and similar troubles reported at the Netherlands MMUG), I've begun efforts to move the site to our own servers and to port the backend from Coldfusion to PHP. Of course, this decision has led to the rising of tempers in certain quarters: How can an MMUG move from CF to PHP? It's sacrilegious! Well, actually, it's not and, as I'll show you below, it's actually much better for the reputation of Macromedia that we do so. I see you confused and asking how that could be. The reason is quite simple:

ColdFusion and shared hosting simply do not go together. (And we cannot afford dedicated ColdFusion hosting for the MMUG at the moment with our current budget, nearly all of which is spent on room and refreshments costs for the various meetings.)

You only have to read through the ColdFusion support forums on Macromedia.com to see the plethora of issues surrounding shared ColdFusion hosting. Sure, you may want to get a shared account to develop, test, perhaps even stage on but deploying a CF application on a shared host when you expect a certain level of traffic can be a prelude to disaster.

J2EE and ColdFusion are great for Enterprise applications because of their scalability. ColdFusion has the added advantage of ease-of-use and lower development time. J2EE itself (which ColdFusion is built on) is not as performant as other application servers such as PHP due to the additional overhead it requires. In an enterprise setting this is not something you would care about since you can cluster several machines together and scale your J2EE/CF application to handle any conceivable load. In a shared server environment, where you have no such option, you will be better off going with a PHP-based solution which will let you get the most out of the limited resources you have at your disposal.

We are moving the MMUG website off of ColdFusion so as not to give the following false impressions about ColdFusion:

1. ColdFusion can (and should) be used on shared servers.

It was never meant to be and that's not its intended use. CF/J2EE cannot be all things to all people. It shines when used on dedicated machines where it can scale through clustering and decrease development time due to its ease of use.

2. Community sites routinely use ColdFusion.

Let's face it: They don't. How many community sites not subsidized in some way by Macromedia do you know that use CF? Such sites mostly use open source application servers due to budget constraints.

3. ColdFusion cannot handle the load (when the site goes down)

Having a ColdFusion site go down for two days does not do any favors to the reputation of Macromedia. It is better to not have the site in CF rather than to have it in CF and have it go down because we do not have the necessary infrastructure or budget to support a true CF solution (which, in this case, would require a dedicated server for the MMUG website.)

Lest it be understood that way, let me clarify once and for all that our move from CF to PHP for this website has nothing to do with CF not being able to handle the load: It is because CF cannot handle the load on a shared server -- a setup it (and J2EE) was never designed to work on and should never be deployed on.

By rewriting the site in PHP we will have a site that is stable under a shared hosting environment and one that we will be able to maintain and control. This will mean that we will be able to maintain a high level of service without stretching the limited budget we have for the MMUG.

The next month or so will no doubt be a tumultuous one for the MMUG web site but we are working hard to have it up and running again as soon as possible.

In the meanwhile, we are having two amazing meetings this month: On the 19th and 20th of May. The Worldwide User Group Meeting is on the 19th and Grant Skinner and Mike Chambers will be over to present on the 20th.