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Developer Profile: Zachary Queal

This is the first in a series of interview style profiles we will be doing to showcase the developers using PHP Fog and AppFog.

So, tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from, how did you get into being a developer, and what are you doing for a living these days?

Well my name is Zach Queal, and currently I’m a resident of Long Island, NY. I’m from a very small town called Mansfield, Pennsylvania with, as you might be able to guess, not much to do! I’ve always had an affinity for technology and was introduced to programming, strangely enough, through my older brother who was required to take a course in HTML for school. What really sparked my attention was the ability to embed media into a page and have people from all over the world view it! After I conquered HTML, it was off to CSS, PHP, and JavaScript moving in an ever expanding outward ripple.

That’s cool to hear that you started so young! So, you’re a solo consultant. Do you enjoy that? Any advice for other developers thinking about going solo freelance?

No! It’s horrible, but I really enjoy working in medium to large teams with compelling individuals! The money’s not bad either! However I love the concept of owning my own business; even the ability to be able to make or break it strictly on my own ability. It’s an indescribable feeling.

Yeah, I can see it being a mixed bag – it’s a tough thing running your own business! You’ve been doing web development for a while. What got you into it? What kind of stuff do you like doing – and want to do – with web dev?

As I stated before I was introduced to programming at a very young age (~9-10) and it was something that I was good at, which really at the time I didn’t have a lot of things that I could do well! But I do enjoy helping large groups or corporations / non-profits with projects from website redesign to total inter-office upgrades. But what I really enjoy doing is helping other people with difficult problems. That’s all programmers are in my mind, people who enjoy solving other’s intricate problems. haha.

So true! How did you end up using PHP Fog and what attracted you to it in the first place? Was PHP Fog your first PaaS?

It was actually interesting for me because at the time, even though I pride myself on staying current with technology, I had never heard of platform as a service (PaaS). I was technically searching for an architecture or process that I could use to deploy applications very quickly with as little downtime as possible. I had recently been introduced to Git deployment from a friend and was researching a way to have my deployments automatically pushed to a web-viewable
directory when I happened to come across PHP Fog through a Google search. It was love at first push! Since that time I’ve been using PHP Fog (and now AppFog) for most of my projects from the fun ones to my corporate contracts.

Git really is the shit isn’t it? So now that you’re using PHP Fog – what are the killer features of the product and of PaaS in general?

PaaS, I think, is really a game changer in the web programming world. Not only does it incorporate the cloud which is basically the web revitalized for a new generation of computing and service deployment, but it also has many outlets for advancing many static application platforms. Not to mention the entire idea of PaaS really takes a lot of the scary out of being a newbie programmer, which hopefully will bring a lot to the game in future years. PHP Fog and AppFog really take expectation to the next level with easy to use web service layer, on top of a rock solid foundation with the application stack and variety of jumpstarts and every single add-on that you could ever need! Paired with the ability to scale, add load balancers, and even manipulate the cache of your applications is necessary and simply a joy using the system in place. But I think one of my favorite features by far is the ability to seamlessly incorporate strong SSL with a dedicated ELB and E.IP. I really believe that in this day and age security is not taken seriously enough, and it’s nice to know that I can provide this security to my clients for a very reasonable price!

I don’t think a lot of people see that link between the old web dev and the new cloud dev. It’s smart. What do you use PHP Fog for?

My very first experience with PHP Fog was deploying my personal resume to the cloud using the regular git push method. (not the pf command line application). I remember how easy it was to start with one of my all time favorite PHP Jumpstarts (Slim) and be ready to go after I took a quick minute to map out a design in my head. It was honestly addictive considering the best method I had before was to create a virtual instance on my dedicated server in Apache and using DNS and htaccess to map to the TLD.

You’re starting to look at the AppFog private beta now. Why?

After using PHP Fog for a few months, and all of the noise about AppFog had started flying around I was more than ecstatic! I couldn’t wait to try it. One of the turn-ons for me was the ability to launch anything from Python, to Ruby and Java applications in the cloud pretty much the same way I did with my PHP applications at PHP Fog. I truly love the fact that AppFog contributes comprehensive PHP support to a great open source project such as Cloud Foundry, as well as incorporates the ability to use other backbone services such as AWS, RackSpace, and even Joyent. I’ve been able to assuage many-a-client to use AppFog’s services simply because of the ability to use other highly dependable services from these recognized providers.

It’s awesome that clients see the value of infrastructure independence! Tell me about your experiences with AppFog the company.

As with many other Geeks, I have strict attention to detail, and need answers NOW! It’s what makes me tick, and what makes my business a success. The only time I’ve every had to submit a support ticket to PHP Fog support, it was responded to in less than 5 minutes and was resolved within 10. Having a company respond as professionally and accurately as that in such a short amount of time is reason enough to give anyone a 5-star rating.

As you can imagine, we LOVE that kind of feedback! What would you like to see from AppFog in the future?

Honestly there isn’t much I can say about this one! The reason why I continue to use PHP Fog is because it works for me, nothing more nothing less. Just about the only helpful suggestion that I could give here is that I would love to see the ability to add SSH keys to groups for easy record keeping. As of right now I have about 15 different SSH keys associated with a single account, as well as the ability to add application specific SSH key access. Thinking back, I
think that’s the only feature that PHP Fog is missing.

Coolness! What’s next for you?

I’d love to be able to say that I’ll finally grow up, become a successful programmer, and eventually the next Bill Gates; but who knows! As for right now, I’m content doing what I’m doing, which is more than I could ask for.

That’s awesome! Glad to hear it’s going so well for you.

Would you like to be featured in a future developer profile? Just let us know!