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Research Engineer at HP Labs Bristol – Dr. Massimo Felici


Contributed by Simon Firth, freelance technology journalist


MassimoFelici2006_2.jpgMassimo Felici joined HP’s Security and Cloud Lab just over a year ago to research issues around accountability, security, and privacy in Europe. Felici grew up on the island of Sicily, where he received his BSc in computer science at the University of Catania. He then served as Reserve Officer in the Italian navy and worked as a researcher at ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development in Rome, before studying for a PhD in Informatics at the University of Edinburgh in the UK. While in Edinburgh, Felici also worked as a research consultant for small and medium enterprises. “I’ve always been interested in going beyond basic research, in collaborating with industry and investigating technology transfers,” he says.



HP: What’s your main area of research interest?

I started out as a computer scientist, then got more involved in software engineering. At the same time, I started to look at problems that merged into industrial software systems around concepts like dependability, trust, risk, and security. It’s helped me appreciate the complexity inherent in deploying systems and framed my interest in getting complex technical systems and services to function well in real world environments.


HP: What have you been working on at HP Labs?

At the moment I’m working on accountability for cloud services, on a project called A4Cloud, funded by the European Commission. We’re looking at how the shift to cloud computing is placing more emphasis on data in an environment where regulation around data protection is continually changing. As a result, customers and end users are perceiving the risk of new technologies for services like cloud computing in many different ways. And as they use the cloud more, their perception of specific kinds of threats changes, too. That’s important for a company like HP to understand, as is the changing regulatory environment in the various countries that we operate.


HP: What’s been your area of responsibility?

The project is multi-disciplinary. We collaborate with partners in other industries and with researchers in economics, social science, and the law. So part of my job is to communicate the technical aspects of the project to stakeholders. I’ve been involved in a series of workshops with stakeholders to understand their needs and concerns, and then bring them back into the technical part of the project.


HP: Have you been working on anything else?

Yes, I’ve also been working on a project called SecCord (Security and Trust Coordination and Enhanced Collaboration), again funded by the European Commission, on cyber security and privacy. Here, my main role has been to help identify strategic research directions. Again, I’ve been interacting with stakeholders across Europe in industry and academia to establish the problems in cyber security and privacy that we jointly think are the most important to address. We’re hoping to provide advice to the European Commission that will both help shape their research agenda and also offer an industrial perspective on cyber security and privacy research, so that future research can align with industrial needs.


HP: What’s the best part of working at Labs?

HP Labs is in a great position to understand the complexity of software systems and IT in general – and also to understand the global dimension of IT. And this is where the interesting problems are today: around security, big data, and deploying systems for millions of customers. You don’t get the same experience and perspective if you don’t belong to an organization like HP.


HP: What got you interested in computing?

I started, probably like most of the kids of my generation, by playing computer games. I was also always good at mathematics and science, but I wanted to do something practical – at the time, computer science was both practical and new, so it was very appealing.


HP: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

I consider keeping the right work/life balance to be really important. So I practice yoga a lot, keep fit, and I like cycling and sailing. I’m also thinking about going to back to painting, which was something I liked to do a lot as a kid, so I might be taking a class in that in the New Year. 

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