Renaissance IT in Contemporary Setting

A profile of Guido Albertini, Chief Information Officer, Comune di Milano

Guido Albertini is a pragmatist. He believes any IT project, however complex, always comes down to identifying the need, producing a plan and executing it. This laser-like focus stood him in good stead when Expo Milan 2015 came to town, promising to attract 20 million visitors over six months.

As chief information officer at Milan City Council, Guido already has his hands full. Milan isn’t just a global fashion and design hub. It’s the EU’s fifth-largest urban area with 5.2 million residents. It’s also the capital of Lombardy, Italy’s economic engine-room. Adding an international event like Expo to such a heady mix could have been problematic.

“We supply services to Milan rather than Expo itself,” Guido explains. “But we had to be sure our infrastructure could handle such a massive influx of people and all the potential disruption of a major event. Our task was to protect the integrity and quality of our services to citizens, while supporting visitors from 140 countries.”

Guido Albertini, Chief Information Officer, Comune di Milano

Guido Albertini, Chief Information Officer, Comune di Milano

Network resilience and security were in Guido’s sights. A brand-new, hosted disaster recovery site was one target; guarding against all manner of hackers and cyber-criminals was another. When deciding how to run the two projects, Guido’s experience came into play.

He’s something of a Renaissance man, speaking English, French and Spanish as well as his native Italian. Colleagues praise his management style and ability to synthesise business and technology into successful outcomes. Originally trained as an aerospace engineer, he’s flown into IT and telecoms roles in the public and private sectors at home and abroad.

More than most, Guido knows what’s involved in giving and receiving advice and getting things done. On this occasion, he sought external help. “We had a lot to do in only two months,” he recalls. “Given the time pressures, and the fact that Expo was one-off rather than ongoing, it made sense to outsource what we needed.”

That decision freed Guido and his team to draw up the spec and architecture for a disaster recovery site that went live ahead of Expo. Defending against cyber-attacks offered a different challenge and called for from Europe-wide specialists whose arcane expertise is similar to forensics. “We gained a fascinating insight into an unfamiliar world,” says Guido. “We also tapped into their experience of major events like the London 2012 Olympics.”

Guido has set up a security centre and fast-response team for the duration of Expo, backed by external resources on permanent stand-by. But his colleagues and their advisers have done a thorough job, strengthening potential failure points and testing all infrastructure elements— hardware, applications, policies, procedures and people. So far, all’s well. Ever the pragmatist, Guido is satisfied but not overly surprised.

Take a look at our case study for the Comune di Milano.

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