Driving Innovation in IT
Paolo Alvari is the Director of Service Assurance at Telecom Italia (TIM), the main telecommunications provider in Italy and a major player in Brazil through its subsidiary, TIM Brazil. With over 20 years of industry experience, Alvari has held several director roles in research and development before landing in his current position.
In this thought leadership article, Alvari shares his insights on how passion, disruption, and commitment can drive success in the telecom industry.
The Unique Skill Set of a Researcher
Alvari began his career as a researcher in artificial intelligence, during the field's heyday, which was short-lived. After working in France for a couple of years and several other European cities, he joined Team, a joint venture between Verizon and Telecom Italia, to develop network performance systems for Verizon in Washington, D.C. Alvari later played different roles in the IT area, including voice and BSS development.
Working as a researcher taught Alvari to be disruptive, passionate, and especially bold in everything he does. He had the honor of working with some of the top IT and telecom experts from both academia and the industry, including Elena Moreis, who defined the OSI Interconnection model that enabled distributed systems without interaction between servers. Moreis later became a successful entrepreneur and created a company named Korres that developed the first true European operating system, which was a great success. Alvari learned from Moreis that "you need to be bold, disruptive, and especially passionate in everything you do."
"I had the honor of working with some of the top IT and telecom experts from both academia and the industry. What I learned from having worked with them is that you need to be bold, disruptive, and especially passionate in everything you do."
Paolo Alvari -
Director of Service Assurance at Telecom Italia (TIM)
The Spirit of Aphrodite
Alvari contributed to the research project called the Spirit of Aphrodite, where he developed a brand new Unix system running on 3H6 boxes. The project aimed to demonstrate the ability to create a new operating system with capabilities similar to cars, being multi-threaded, and able to run on a UNIX box. The operating system was similar to Cores, which was competing with the Mac class from Carnegie Mellon University, now the core of Hadoop, MacOS, as well as Windows NT. Windows NT was the first release of Windows, which introduced the protected environment for processes by exploiting the 386 features and has been the basis of Windows that became a big milestone to get into the server arena for Microsoft, which before was limited to the desktop environment.
"We're moving quickly to the multi-chip computer project whose purpose was to demonstrate the ability to create a new operating system with capabilities similar to cars. So being multi-threaded, obviously less functionality to be able to run is what we will call today a bit on machine on a UNIX box."
From Research to Leadership
Alvari's career as a researcher led to his first role in research and development for several companies. After some time in the private sector, he managed to land at Telecom Italia, which gave him the opportunity to become a director. The move happened through Roberto Corsi, a close friend of Alvari, who inspired him with the management skills he collected in his career. Corsi was responsible for the largest and most famous industry lab in Italy, and Alvari learned a lot from him.
"I learned that it's not important to reach the top, but you must realistically create your baseline and measure the progress through goal setting. That's what makes your life satisfactory. Don't be a mess, but swim across it."
Overcoming Challenges with Diligent Work
With diligent work, Alvari learned to overcome difficult moments in his career. He had to learn from his mistakes and be guided by smart analysis. He always used the metaphor of binary trees, which made more complex graphs. At hand, he had to choose between two options and go through the tree and eventually backtrack on the tree if needed. This golden rule applied to mastering complex decisions and adjusting in his work life. Alvari is still a programmer and loves programming in the Ada language, learning how to use the new language.
"You need to be very fast. The speed is very important; if you arrive late, it's like not completing your work. I am training myself in different ways to improve my attention. If you want some of your colleagues to modify or improve some of their characteristics, the best way is to improve your own characteristics."
Achieving Productivity in Service Assurance
Alvari is presently working in the IT area, playing different roles in voice and BSS development. He is also dwelling in the new realm of Service Assurance, where he believes automatic diagnosis can drive real productivity. Customers should not have to call telecom providers to alert them of all the problems they are having. Instead, telecom providers should call them when they have fixed what they want to achieve. To do that, Alvari and his team have defined a project whose goal is to solve issues in fixing before the client claims for forehead, having some breaking ice success, especially on voice over IP.
"We must reach real productivity in assurance, not being reactive. We are having some breaking ice success, especially on voice over IP."
Leading with Speed, Attention, and Improvement
Alvari has already been a leader in several teams and departments. He emphasizes that it is not important to reach the top, but you must realistically create your baseline and measure your progress through goal setting. Alvari realized that speed is very important in his working life. The speed means reacting hastily in emails, which we now relate by using electronic systems. But social email sometimes doesn't mean the right attention. Alvari emphasizes that "in work and life, you need to be very fast. The speed is very important; if you arrive late, it's like not completing your work. I am training myself in different ways to improve my attention. If you want some of your colleagues to modify or improve some of their characteristics, the best way is to improve your own characteristics."
"If you want some of your colleagues to modify or improve some of their characteristics, the best way is to improve your own characteristics."
The Legacy of Circolo and Serverless Architecture
Alvari is particularly satisfied with the system named Circolo, which provides tokenization services to most of the Team systems. It is used to protect valuable customer data. TIM adopted a true serverless architecture for the first time four years ago, and Alvari has never found anything with the same level of robustness and ease of use. He considers it the best and would like to leave it as his legacy to his colleagues.
"We adopted a true serverless architecture for the first time four years ago, and I've never found something with the same level. Again, robust, easy, the best."
1.Passion, disruption, and commitment are key drivers of success in the telecom industry.
2.Overcoming difficult moments in your career requires diligent work and smart analysis.
3.To achieve real productivity in service assurance, telecom providers should be proactive instead of reactive.
4.Leading with speed, attention, and continuous improvement is crucial to staying ahead in the industry.
5.Adopting a true serverless architecture can provide robust and easy-to-use systems for protecting customer data.
Hello, everybody. Welcome to aim10x. Today I am very pleased to interview Paolo Alvari. He is the Director of Service Assurance in TIM and he is one of the most successful and long standing members of Telecom Italia and now TIM.
So, Paolo, could you please introduce yourself to our members and tell us what you do? Thank you, Juan. My name is Paolo
Alvari and I'm an executive presently working for TIM in Italy. TIM is the main telecom provider in Italy with a major subsidiary in Brazil, TIM Brazil, which is a major player for mobile services in Brazil.
I graduated from a very nice Italian university in the center of Italy in Computer Science. And I started my career in artificial intelligence as a researcher. At that time, those where the bright days for A.I. and unfortunately thereafter in Italy it faded down. Then I was working in France for a couple of years and in a few other European cities it such as London, Brussels, Berlin.
Next I moved to a joint venture between Verizon and Telecom Italia to develop network performance systems for Verizon in Washington D.C. and finally I landed on TIM. I am presently working in the IT area, playing different roles in OSS and BSS development. Thank you so much for that introduction, Paolo, and this is exactly one of the reasons that I really wanted to interview you, because you started your career as a researcher, and that takes a very unique skillset. So what were some things
that the academic sector taught you that made you unique in the private sector?
I had to work harder with some of the top I.T. and telco experts from both the academia and the industry. The one that I learned more from is Hubert Zimmerman, the man who defined the OSI interconnection model. We wouldn't have any interaction between service, or distributive systems without his work. He was a very famous physician and he became a successful entrepreneur.
He decided to create a company named Chorus, which was developing the first true European operating system, and brought it to a real success. He was a true innovator. Adopted a really disruptive business model. Very strong management capabilities.
Perfect commitment to success. So what I took back from Having worked with him for a couple of years is that you need to be innovative, disruptive and especially passionate in anything you do. And something that really
got my attention was one of your publications that you did with some really important researchers in the environment called The Spirit of Aphrodite. That's a very interesting title for a publication in the tech sector.
So what knowledge did you actually contribute to that research? Now this paper was written with Hubert Zimmerman at athe time. We submitted to EEC's Pre-consortium a project proposal for next generation more tetrad operating system. At that time, the I.T
community were working on creating the future of Unix V-4 batteries. So all of those based on the concept of multithread, to exploit the emerging multiprocessor, multicore computer architecture, which I remember. We were moving quickly to the multichip computer. The project purpose was to demonstrate the ability to create a new operating system with capabilities similar to cars, so being mutlithreaded, obviously less functionality.
To be able to run as what we call today a virtual machine on a UNIX box. So my role in that project was to develop at the time a brand new UNIX system 5 running on 386 box. This operating system similar to cars, was to create some link with a very famous system and was competing with the Mac OS from Carnegie Mellon University, which is now the core of Apple Mac OS, as well as Windows NT. Windows NT was the first release of Windows which introduced the protected environment for processes by exploiting the 386 features and being the basis of Windows was the first big milestone to get into the server arena for Microsoft that before was limited to the desktop.
And this career
as a researcher also landed your first role in R&D from several companies. And after a while in the private sector, you managed to land in Telecom Italia. Who gave you the opportunity to become a director and how did that move happen? It was Norberto Corsi, he was a very good friend of mine.
He has inspired me with the management skills that I have collected in my career. He has been responsible for the biggest and most famous industry lab in Italy and excelled. I learned a lot from him. That's amazing.
And it's already been a very successful 20 year career already in Telecom Italia. I think this month was your 20 year anniversary of Telecom Italia, so congratulations for that. You've transitioned already in several director roles. So with the knowledge that you have today, what are some lessons that you would have liked to share with Paolo Alvari from 2003 when you were starting?
Be passionate and results will arrive. You must love what you do. Be curious to learn from anybody. There are some techniques I've learned and I am applying, not just at work.
It's not important to reach the top, but you must realistically create your baseline and measure the improvements year over year through a goal tactic. That's what makes your life satisfactory. Don't be some mess by the way, but swim across it. That's very important.
That's really good because we live in this quarter to quarter mentality sometimes and we tend to forget about the long term. So thank you for that knowledge. And just taking a little bit into
account your career in TIM, what were some difficult moments in those 20 years and how did you overcome those difficult moments? With diligent work.
I had many difficult times, as many of us have. First, you must learn from your mistakes. Then hard work guided by smart analogies. I always use the metaphor of binary threes which make more than complex graphs.
On the other hand, you must choose between two options. And so, you need to go through the three and eventually backtrack from the three, if it is needed. It has been a golden rule applied to master complex decisions and adjust my work life. By the way, I am still a programmer.
I do log, and I'm still programming in any language I learn. That's fantastic! Very recently you have been dwelling in this new realm of service assurance. So
if you could solve one of the biggest challenges in service assurance today, what would it be and why?
Automatic diagnosis. We must reach real productivity in assurance. Not being reactive. Customers should not call us for the problems they are having.
We must call them when we have fixed it. That's what we we want to achieve. In order to do it, we have defined in advance a project in TIM whose goal is to solve issues and fix them before the client claims for it. We are having some pretty nice success, especially on for instance, voiceover I.T.,
very promising. You have already been a leader in several team, several departments. What is something that you wish
more people understood about the challenges that you have every day as a leader? Well, I don't know if I'm a leader.
It is a complex role. What I always do is asking, am I doing this in the right way? What do I need to improve to be more effective? For instance, I realize that many years ago that speed is very important in your work in life.
Speed means in reacting, answering in a email. We now relay by using electronic systems, social, email. And sometimes you don't give those types of interactions the right attention. Now, I've been working hard on it because I think it is a crucial aspect of your working life.
You need to be very fast. The speed is very important, You arrive late, and now it's like not completing your work. I trained myself in different ways to improve my attention. I mean the way that I was handling priorities.
If you want some of your colleagues to modify, improve some of their characteristics, the best way is to do the improvement on your characteristics and then let them copy you. It's like they are your son, I learned that. You cannot protest with some characteristics you don't like. You need to do it in the way you like and it will follow.
That's very good advice, Paolo. And thinking about your career in the last 20 years that you've already been in TIM, what would be the legacy that you would like to leave for your colleagues there? It is a system that provides tokenization services to most of the TIM systems. We use that for protecting valuable data of our customer.
Now we adopted a true serverless architecture for the first time four years ago. And I've never found something, with the same level. Elegant, robust, easy. The best.
So that's what I would like to leave to TIM. Thank you so much for taking the time for the interview today, Paolo. You've been really fantastic and I think our members will benefit from your knowledge. Any last words of advice that you would like to share with the Aim10x community?
Now. It's been a pleasure to talk to you. You know, you have been following me in the planning of this meeting so I really appreciate what you are doing. Thank you to everyone.
It's been our pleasure, Paolo. Thank you so much for doing the interview and looking forward to the next one.
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