Managed Services

Canalys: State of the Channel, MSP Markets


If you were looking for some facts about the state of the channel, Palm Springs, California was the place to be this week. Channel leaders from around the world gathered for the first Canalys Forum North America, and Canalys analysts shared plenty of data about the technology channel market and predictions about where it’s headed in the years to come.

Because we’re a little more focused on the managed services market here at ChannelE2E, we’ll start out with some of the data shared about the MSP market.

Chief analyst for MSPs Robin Ody shared the following data points:

  • Managed services delivered by channel partners in North America in 2022 totaled $190.6 billion, representing an 11.1% growth rate year over year.
  • 81,655 partners delivered managed services in North America in 2022 (not all channel partners who deliver managed services are pure play MSPs)
  • There was a 1% increase year over year in the number of North American partners delivering managed services.
  • There was a 6.1% increase year over year in the number of MSPs in North America.

Ody also shared the following KPIs for high-performing MSPs:

  • 250-plus endpoints or users per technician
  • Pricing of $150 to $200 per user per month
  • 40%-plus service gross margin
  • Incentives on renewals versus new customer acquisitions
  • 30 minutes maximum per support ticket

MSPs on the panel Ody moderated – Jason Norred, CISO at Solutions II, and Allan Jocson, president, Agilitec IT -- both said that their service gross margins were higher than those that Ody shared. Both of these MSPs also noted that they are recently moving away from per user pricing.  Jocson said it’s now “land and expand, especially for co-selling.”

Ryan Walsh, chief strategy officer at Pax8 and Michelle Ragusa-McBain, VP Global Channels at SonicWall, both expressed that their commitment to training and enabling the channel.

Norred and Jocson both said they want vendors that have a dedicated MSP program

“I don’t work with vendors who don’t understand the MSP industry,” Jocson said. “No longterm contracts and no minimums.”

The panel also featured Bill Hustad, SVP Global Partner and Alliances at Okta and Arsalan Eizadirad, senior manager, Global MSP Strategy at Lenovo.

Beyond MSPs: Canalys Forum North America Opening Keynote

In his opening keynote, Canalys CEO Steve Brazier talked about how the world has changed over the past three years, from the pandemic lockdowns spurring hardware purchases to enable work from home, to the cryptocurrency collapse and the failure of a couple of banks. He also sounded a warning about private equity.

A Warning About Private Equity

“Private equity may well be the next big bust,” Brazier said. “It’s the biggest risk in the financial system today. How private equity works is they buy one company then the sell it on to another fund and they sell it onto another fund and everyone thinks they’re making lots of money and as long as the wheel keeps turning, that’s fine. But there’s no independent valuation of the companies they hold on the books. And many of those companies owned by private equity are worth much less than a valuation on the previous purchase price. And that may well be the next unwinding bubble that we see.”

U.S. Channel Growth to Return in April 2024

Brazier also noted that the tech industry didn’t perform as well this year as it had in previous years with one exception – Nvidia. In spite of the challenging year for many companies, Brazier said that the period of inventory adjustment in the channel is over and vendors are investing again, although that still hasn’t been reflected in the greater channel yet. Brazier said the US channel will grow again starting in April 2024.

5 Megatrends and 5 GenAI Predictions

Brazier identified the following megatrends:

  • Generative AI (which is more than making up for the collapse of crypto)
  • Sustainability (our customers will increasingly demand it in RFPs)
  • Cybersecurity (“the gift that just keeps giving”)
  • Optimization (there’s a need to optimize cloud spend)

What will happen with generative AI in the channel in the next few years? Canalys offered the following predictions for generative AI for 2026.

  • Generative AI will become an integrated embedded feature across most software and hardware products for no additional charge.
  • 70% of on-device chip power will be left untapped as most software companies are falling behind in integrating unique AI features. Microsoft is ahead here, and Google and Apple will follow.
  • 40% of generative AI models will have been compromised by nation states
  • A quarter of all code will be produced by individuals who don’t have any formal programming training.
  • At least 10 people in this room (the keynote room) will quit their jobs to start AI consultancies, get 10 to 20 staff, and exit for millions of dollars to GSIs (global systems integrators).
Jessica C. Davis

Jessica C. Davis is editorial director of CyberRisk Alliance’s channel brands, MSSP Alert, MSSP Alert Live, and ChannelE2E. She has spent a career as a journalist and editor covering the intersection of business and technology including chips, software, the cloud, AI, and cybersecurity. She previously served as editor in chief of Channel Insider and later of MSP Mentor where she was one of the original editors running the MSP 501.