Reprinted from


IT utility/outsourcing

"The utility model means you take a world-class IT infrastructure and support organization, build it once and let multiple companies share it."

Historic overview: Richard Waidmann started Connectria "when the Internet started to hit big in 1996," he says. The company was focused on Internet infrastructures. An early customer, Deutsche Bank, needed a disaster recovery center. "They needed it quickly, so we built our first data center and that grew into the region's first IT Utility," he says, explaining, "In the early 20th century, companies built their own power plants, until they were able to buy the power they needed much more inexpensively through utility companies. We see the same thing happening in the information technology industry." Most companies run their own data centers, networks, servers and databases that use the same underlying technologies and require the same skills, Waidmann says. "Like electricity, these functions are essential for companies, but provide no economic benefit for their business. You don't need big computers sitting in your data center anymore. Using our facilities and staff you can get systems or network capacity and capabilities very inexpensively." Connectria has just under 100 employees in its St. Louis headquarters and at its Data Center in the Broadband Exchange Building downtown, and in Philadelphia, serving more than 200 companies worldwide.

Products and services: Connectria delivers a complete range of IT outsourcing and disaster recovery services at lower costs and higher service levels than companies can typically provide themselves. The company's IT Utility leverages its world-class St. Louis and Philadelphia data centers and IT infrastructure with a variety of high-speed broadband and fiber networks. Services include onsite facilities management, remote management and Managed Hosting from Connectria's Data Centers and Network Operations Centers.

Distinguishing characteristics: As the cost of technology continues to decrease, the biggest challenge now is the cost of people to support the IT infrastructure, Waidmann says. "Small and midsized companies need to support a wide mix of technologies, and typically have a staff that must be jacks-of-all-trades without depth in any of their key technologies. We can provide expertise in every technology, so when you need economies of scale, like one-tenth of an Oracle database administrator or two-fifths of a UNIX systems administrator, that's easy for us to do."

The big news: "We developed a proprietary environment that monitors and manages our systems and network, so a lot of the tasks that used to require a human being are now automated," Waidmann says. "As a result it's easy for us to add new clients inexpensively, because we don't need as much manpower to manage systems or networks."

Regional benefits: "Being centrally located helps us connect to other parts of the country fairly inexpensively, because the closer you are to the customer, the less it costs to run the fiber or other means of connectivity. That allows us to structure our costs lower than the coasts, which gives us a competitive advantage," Waidmann says. He adds the company benefits from being in the Central Time Zone, and from being a part of the city's Regional Exchange Point effort underway to provide core network services to the entire region.

The name: Waidmann explains, "Our marketing team came up with the name to signify our ability to deliver technology services by connecting to us. Hence, the name Connectria, "The IT Utility."