MIX Interview: Get to know our CCO, Cristiano Zanforlin

What does your role entail at MIX?

As the Chief Commercial Officer at MIX, I lead both the sales and marketing departments. This means I am heavily involved in the onboarding of new customers, and managing communications with our existing customers, from designing customer-facing documentation to managing events where we meet face-to-face. Internet exchanges play an important role in the digital infrastructure community, and a large part of my job is facilitating the running of this community with clear communication.

I also frequently attend both national and international events on behalf of MIX. From ITNOG which is close to home, to huge events such as Capacity Media Europe, I’m very fortunate to have travelled a lot with my job and met many people from across the digital infrastructure community.

What’s the best part of your job?

I never get bored of explaining the intricacies of the internet to newcomers. Some may find it annoying to repeat the same information over and over again, but for me, I find joy in helping someone understand the extent and mechanisms of the online world. I find immense satisfaction in sharing my knowledge with the young people who enter our industry every year.

Moreover, introducing newcomers to the inner-workings of the internet and guiding them through the process of acquiring digital skills is immensely rewarding. Witnessing their growth and empowerment as they become more confident in navigating this complex industry is one of the best parts of my job.

What exciting things are happening at MIX right now?

The recent opening of a new Points of Presence (PoPs) in Rome (and a new one in Caserta is coming soon) is very exciting for all of us here at MIX. The move helps cement us as the nation’s foremost Internet Exchange platform, enabling central-southern operators previously unconnected to us to engage with over 270 new networks. Our commitment to a nationwide expansion, which began in 2017 within Open Hub Med data center in Palermo and continued in 2022 inside Lepida data center in Bologna, now extends its reach to Rome, in Cloud Europe data center at first, and then in Caserta inside Data Felix, catering to the needs of TLC operators in the central and southern regions of Italy.

By establishing these independent Internet Exchanges in third-party data centres with top-notch reliability and ample space, we are empowering dozens of operators to immediately join our network. The significance of this expansion lies not only in local data exchange and reduced access times for content and service providers, but also in the increased availability of high-performance technologies. Our vision is to foster thriving local initiatives and create strong alliances with data centre providers, propelling the creation of more decentralised communities of interests, all strengthened by the presence of our PoPs.

What change would you like to see in the digital infrastructure industry?

I firmly believe that the rapid developments in artificial intelligence will play a significant part in our future, and while it is fascinating, I hope to see sensitivity surrounding our industry’s handling of new technology as it is potentially dangerous. While I believe other sectors are likely to be affected more than digital infrastructure, there is still a lot of scope for change within our industry, which is a potential worry.

The change I envision is a carefully managed and gradual adoption of these technologies within our industry, accompanied by a broader commitment to transparency in AI practices. There is a pressing need for greater disclosure regarding AI-generated content and distinguishing it from human-created content, allowing individuals and businesses to operate with confidence, free from the shroud of secretive artificial intelligence.

Why should more businesses leverage connections to Italian networks?

Over the past two decades, we have witnessed a remarkable surge in internet traffic, demonstrating the incredible potential of our interconnected digital world. Italy, strategically positioned in the heart of the Mediterranean, serves as an ideal gateway, linking Europe to other continents seamlessly. This geographical advantage not only enhances the reliability and efficiency of data transfer, but also opens up boundless opportunities for international collaborations and market expansions. Embracing the power of Italian networks empowers businesses with unrivaled connectivity, paving the way for unprecedented growth and global reach in today’s dynamic digital landscape.

There are currently a number of subsea cables in development around Italy –  such as those at Genoa, Crotone, Rome, Trieste not to mention Sicily with several landing stations in Palermo, Mazara, Trapani and Catania and the Puglia region as well – which will help to further strengthen our country’s connectivity power.

Is there anything else you’d like to highlight?

One of the most important initiatives here at MIX is our work with secondary schools —MIX‘COOL. We hold sessions, either virtually or at the MIX data centre, with students, during which we educate students on the aspects of digital infrastructure they unknowingly use every day, and show them how data travels throughout the world.

It’s incredibly important to connect schools with businesses, as the latter often struggle to attract young talent and diversify their companies. We also encourage young people to find out more about the digital world they so frequently interact with, which in turn attracts them to careers in the industry. In fact, this year’s annual Salotto began with a two-hour agenda dedicated to schools, bringing our commitment to educating young people to the forefront of our calendar’s most important week.