About Corte dei conti
Corte dei conti (Cdc), or the Court of Auditors, is responsible for auditing and overseeing the accounts and budgets of all public institutions in Italy. Founded in 1862, its remit is set out in Article 100 of the Italian Constitution, which details the court’s judicial and administrative role in safeguarding public money, as well as in “preventing and avoiding waste and bad management of public finances.”
Despite its long-established roots, Cdc isn’t an institution that has remained entrenched in the past. It understands that modernization is key to keeping relevant in a fast-moving world, and as a result it has embraced change in its processes and structure. IT has been central to this. Leandro Gelasi, IT officer at Corte dei conti, says, “We have a deep commitment to continuous improvement, and to support this goal we need an agile and elastic IT infrastructure.”
Gelasi and his team wanted to move away from time-consuming management of physical IT. “We wanted to focus on providing an excellent service, rather than on handling hardware,” he says. A larger initiative to boost employee productivity went hand in hand with this efficiency drive, as Gelasi continues, “We wanted to change the way our 3,000-plus employees worked, enabling them to access applications from anywhere, on any device. But we had to ensure that this flexibility for staff didn’t jeopardize the safety of data.”
Given its high-profile role in keeping public finances in check—and with the Italian government requiring agencies to cut IT expenditure in line with wider budget cuts—Cdc also had to focus on reducing its own costs. With a largely Citrix-based infrastructure, Corte dei conti had invested a lot in training its staff in this technology. It wanted to make the most of this investment, while at the same time making its architecture more agile.
Why Amazon Web Services
The answer was a hybrid cloud environment, and Cdc chose Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AWS Advanced Consulting Partner XPeppers to help it in this journey, starting with adopting a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) based on Amazon WorkSpaces. Gelasi says, “We looked at AWS and realized it was the perfect platform for our migration to the cloud. We had worked with XPeppers before, so it was our first choice to help us move to AWS and ensure seamless integration with our Citrix environment.”
The infrastructure runs on 25 Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, which run only during office hours, between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm. Cdc uses AWS Lambda to orchestrate the startup and shutdown for each instance. Each department has a dedicated Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) and a virtual private network connection between the VPCs and Cdc’s data centers.
Paolo Latella, solutions architect at XPeppers, says, “Because it deals with sensitive data, Corte dei conti needs a secure architecture. We worked with Cdc to explain best practices in the cloud, ensuring that it maintains the highest security levels.” For example, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) helps the court control access to resources, and Amazon CloudWatch allows the team to keep applications running smoothly. Plus, through the AWS Marketplace, Cdc can choose the software and services it needs to implement a security model that replicates its on-premises structure.
First and foremost, Gelasi and his team feel safe working in the cloud. “We have no concerns about security or compliance,” he says. “It’s not easy to replicate the same security levels that we have on premises, but working in AWS, we’re confident that we’re following best practices for data protection, network access, and other security measures.”
He continues, “The service that our users are getting is vastly improved. We have very little feedback, which is great for us. No news is good news in IT.” In addition, internal users have more flexibility and can access applications on their laptops, tablets, and smartphones from anywhere. “We have made it possible for court employees such as magistrates to work effectively from home. Previously, they could only access applications from the office, but now they can do this wherever they are. As a result, they’re much more productive. Decisions get made faster and the whole system works better. It’s a brilliant result for our entire organization,” says Gelasi.
Managing processes is also easier, so the Cdc IT team can focus on developing services for both internal and external clients. One of the IT team’s goals in the organization’s larger drive to boost efficiency is to provide services to government agencies across Italy. Gelasi says, “With our AWS infrastructure, it’s easier for us to offer IT to other institutions, which helps them cut costs in line with government initiatives.”
“We’re saving money in the cloud too,” he continues. “By moving to AWS, we avoided €40,000 in hardware costs.” Operating expenses are more difficult to determine, but Gelasi is convinced that with the VDI project, Cdc is cutting energy consumption and saving money on air conditioning and electricity. “One of the drivers of the project was to get better visibility of costs and be more accountable,” he says. “As we move more of our infrastructure to the AWS cloud, we’ll be able to do this too.”
Having successfully deployed VDI to 250 users across Cdc, the team is now rolling it out across all of the organization’s regions, eventually giving its 3,000 employees the tools to be more productive. The court is also working with XPeppers to build its disaster recovery on AWS and move more workloads to the cloud for improved agility. “The biggest benefit of working in the AWS cloud? I can’t pinpoint just one,” says Gelasi. “It’s the whole package. We’ve got more flexibility, we can scale seamlessly, and we have more time to provide a great service to our customers.”
“We have no concerns about security or compliance. It's not easy to replicate the same security levels that we have on premises, but working in AWS, we're confident that we're following best practices for data protection, network access, and other security measures.”
Leandro Gelasi, IT Officer