2,000 Phoenix TV staff use private cloud hosted virtual desktops

Chinese-language TV broadcaster Phoenix TV recently implemented virtual desktops for its 2,000 staff at its Hong Kong headquarter, to enable remote access to office and business applications hosted on its on-premise private cloud.

Initially deployed Citrix XenApp to virtualize its applications, Phoenix TV later implemented Citrix NetScaler as an application delivery controller. Most recently, Phoenix TV deployed Citrix XenDesktop to simplify the management of its IT infrastructure, and to reduce the number of applications it needed to run to make its IT systems work effectively.

Established in 1996, Phoenix TV set up its first infotainment channel. It also set up its own IT team to replace much IT outsourcing activities. In 2004, Phoenix TV built a global IT network to connect its offices worldwide and to transmit hi-resolution videos. In 2009, Phoenix TV implemented a cloud computing framework for its IT infrastructure when it relocated to the new Tai Po office in Hong Kong. By 2013, Phoenix upgraded the backend IT systems and migrated them to the cloud. It also replaced digital tape data storage with virtual images for data backup. Today, Phoenix TV broadcasts in over 150 countries and regions, delivering “up-to-the-minute” content 24/7.

“For a company like Phoenix TV, whose stock in trade is highly time-sensitive news stories delivered by a large team of mobile personnel, the business benefits of an end-to-end Citrix platform are clear and compelling,” said Kenneth Chau, country manager, Hong Kong and Macau, Citrix.

Phoenix TV’s Citrix XenDesktop deployment enables it to deliver Windows apps and desktops as secure mobile services, enabling IT to mobilize the business while reducing costs by centralizing security and control. Used both XenApp and XenDesktop, Phoenix TV can now deliver full desktops or just the apps to any device.

“The whole organization benefits from having a highly responsive and user-friendly virtual desktop infrastructure,” said Wang Hongbo (pictured), deputy director, Information and Network Management, Phoenix TV. “At the same time, maintaining the system has also become simpler for my department, enabling us to achieve more. Overall, this increased efficiency reduces the total cost of ownership to the company.”

Mobility strategy

Wang said there was no such thing as a “mobility strategy” at Phoenix TV. “As long as the staff can access our systems and resources, we don’t care which device they use. In fact, we do not differentiate whether a staff is a mobile worker or not. What the IT team does is to provide a VDI platform, where a lot of our business applications run on it.” According to Wang, there are about 30 “big applications” — one of them being the entire Citrix suite — running on Phoenix TV’s virtual desktop platform.

“Using virtual desktops, as long as our staff can access Windows, they can run the applications they need via their mobile phones, iPads, or laptops at home,” Wang said. He added that of the 20-strong Hong Kong IT team, who is responsible for the day-to-day system maintenance, business applications management and customer support, there is just one dedicated staff that supports the entire VDI infrastructure.

The most difficult part along Phoenix TV’s IT transformation, according to Wang, has been IT talent recruitment. “Recruiting IT talents has been the most difficult for us because we were an early cloud adopter. It has been challenging to put together our own IT team, but we have a strong IT team now.”

Pervasive cloud adoption

Not just an early adopter, Phoenix TV has adopted cloud computing pervasively at its Hong Kong headquarter. Its key cloud initiatives include:

  • A cloud desktop system that provides a productivity platform for 700 staff at the Hong Kong headquarters;
  • A cloud server host system that provides computing resources for office operations and business applications;
  • A high-performance remote access system for the provisioning computing resources for 3D production (using (3D Max, Maya, Cinema 4D) and high-definition mobile TV viewing;
  • A 3D software rendering service that provides high performance rendering service for about a dozen design software including 3D Max and After Effects post-production;
  • A post-production editing rendering service that provides high performance rendering for the cloud-based Final Cut Pro post-production editing system; and
  • A cloud operating platform to distribute media resources, news feeds, content distribution and big data transmission — the “core systems for Phoenix TV’s business,” said Wang.