The 10 Biggest Managed Services Stories Of 2012

The Year In Managed Services

MSPs were a busy lot in 2012. Whether it was figuring out how to manage mobile devices, acquire other companies (or get acquired) or integrate more cloud solutions, managed service was always in the news. Here's a look back at some of the biggest managed services news stories of the year.

10. The Rise of Managed Print

Solution providers that long gave up their printing and imaging business along the way to make a transition to managed services have found rekindled relationships thanks to the rise of managed print services. Recruitment efforts of Xerox, Oki Data, Ricoh and more have led to re-engagements with MSPs and managed print service providers are integrating mobile print solutions into their broader service offerings.

9. PSAs Leads The Way

If you talk about what MSPs are doing, professional services automation (PSA) vendors can't be far behind. And the big three: ConnectWise, Autotask and Tigerpaw all kept partners happy with new integrations, new partnerships and new features.

8. Want To Attract MSPs? Hire One

MSPs were not only hot commodities as businesses this year, but their executives were even more desirable. Vendors and distributors found the best way to understand the managed services market, and to build solutions for them, was to bring in people that best understand that business model: MSPs themselves. Examples of MSPs leaving their businesses to join the vendor distributor ranks include AVG and Tech Data.

7. New Releases, New Features

MSPs look forward to the regular release of the latest version of their MSP platform because it's usually chock full of new features and functionality. The most recent releases from N-able Technologies and N Level Platforms are just two examples.

6. Hacker Exploits Vulnerabilities

It was patched quickly, but managed service providers' eyes may have widened when reports that a hacker had demonstrated zero-day vulnerabilities in Kaseya and ManageEngine. If many MSPs had never thought of themselves as a target before, that may have to change going forward.

5. There's An App For That

In addition to developing mobile device management capabilities for MSPs' customers (more on that shortly), MSP platform vendors, such as Continuum, created their own mobile apps that MSPs' technicians could use anywhere to monitor and manage their clients devices.

4. Distributors Step Up

Distribution used to be the best place to buy hardware and software, but distributors have spent considerable resources beefing up their managed services and cloud offerings to solution providers.

3. The Rise of Super MSPs

The managed service provider space was once dominated by sub-$5 million companies. But that's all changing thanks to a massive consolidation in the MSP market, spurred both by large traditional VARs buying MSPs as well as longtime MSPs buying and expanding organically to create more scale and revenue.

2. Getting Cloudy

The lines continue to blur between cloud and traditional managed services, with more MSPs and vendors lining up to cloudify their offerings and expand their portfolio to become a more full-featured trusted IT advisor.

Partnerships between vendors like Intel and N-able can help managed service providers ramp up more quickly.

Even vendors like Cisco are combining their cloud and managed services partner programs into a single program.

1. Mobility, Mobility, Mobility

If there's one subject that was on the mind of MSPs and MSP vendors this year -- even more than cloud -- it was mobile device management. As more corporations allow employees to bring their own device to work or want more control over their corporate-owned smartphones, service providers have to figure out a way to manage those devices without worrying corporate IT professionals.