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Datapipe Founders Embark On New Channel Venture

The innovative MSP became one of the largest partners of AWS before it was bought by Rackspace. Now its founders are getting the band back together with effectual, a New Jersey-based AWS consultancy.

More than a year since the founders of Datapipe closed one of the biggest deals to reshape the channel in the cloud era by selling the groundbreaking MSP to Rackspace, they've reunited for a new venture.

Effectual, based in Hoboken, N.J., applies the lessons learned building Datapipe into a channel powerhouse—the first colocation and managed services provider to partner with AWS rather than see it as a rival.

Robb Allen, Datapipe's CEO for its 17 years in existence and now CEO of effectual, said while the new company is led by many Datapipe veterans and pulls from their experience, the plan is to be a more focused, leaner operation.

[Related: AWS Channel Chief Terry Wise On The Partner Opportunity Around Outposts, Machine Learning And Blockchain]

"It's somewhat liberating to start fresh," Allen told CRN. "To do a startup again, you get to do it having the benefit of all the experience you've had over the years—all the customers you've worked with, all the platforms."

Those experiences include helping customers like McDonald's embrace a cloud-first IT strategy.

"We worked with some of the most iconic brands in the world and got a real understanding of what the challenges are for enterprises as they move to cloud—different business units, regulatory requirements, budgets."

In addition to managed services for AWS, and later Microsoft Azure, Datapipe offered a large private cloud practice as well as traditional colocation services across several data centers.

"We were a one-stop shop for a lot of those things," Allen said.

Effectual, in contrast, isn't getting involved in running any data centers, and is currently solely focused on AWS as a cloud partner.

But a few things remain consistent from one company to the next, starting with a focus on customer outcomes, Allen said.

"The belief was that we would build loyal customers, build our reputation and build our brand, and I think we did that really successfully," Allen told CRN.

Effectual is also taking advantage of its founders' long history of working with AWS, their deep expertise in the depth of the platform, features and global reach, he said.

Another theme that's carried over from Datapipe is leading with security.

"If you get everything else right in an IT solution but don’t get security right, it doesn't matter," Allen said.

But effectual is more-narrowly focused on what's most important to customers right now: the ability to make the move to cloud with confidence.

"They want to be confident they have the security part figured out, got the governance figured out. Focus on cost control, deep insight into the financial operation of your cloud, as well as actual operations of the cloud," Allen said.

While Datapipe ultimately embraced Microsoft Azure, effectual, at least for the time being, is sticking exclusively to AWS.

In the Datapipe days, "AWS was the part of every conversation, and the other players were parts of some conversations," Allen said.

The new solution provider might partner with other clouds at some point, but those alliances will be decided by client demand, he said.

Effectual is interested in working again with VMware technologies through the virtualization leader's hybrid cloud partnership with AWS. That practice could extend to Outposts, Amazon's new on-premises cloud that can run AWS or VMware environments.

"Some of the things VMware is doing in the data center and in the cloud, for us it's a great place to focus," he said.

"The important thing is not to be just technologists, but to be able to understand the business goals they're trying to achieve through the technology. That informs the technologies we choose and recommend and deploy."

While some Datapipe employees did a stint at Rackspace to facilitate the merger, Allen sat on the sidelines after the acquisition as part of a non-compete contract. Once that year expired, effectual launched its practice just in time for the AWS re:Invent conference last November, he said.

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