2018 MSP 501 Is the Most Diverse Ever

Our largest pool of applicants ever yielded fresh faces and some amazing stories.

Kris Blackmon, Head of Channel Communities

September 10, 2018

3 Min Read
2018 MSP 501 Trophy

When the first MSPmentor list debuted in 2007, we were living in a whole other world. Smartphones, social media and the sharing economy either didn’t exist or were in their infancy. Hot cybersecurity topics centered on things like how to securely configure Microsoft Vista. Big data and data mining were a growth area for MSPs, mobile capabilities weren’t even a thing and vendors essentially called all the shots.

Back then, the list was based on the surface-level data most MSPs had available to them. Value-added resellers (VARs) were just starting to really make hay of managed services, and the trends the survey revealed said far more about the solutions that vendors were pushing than the opportunities MSPs wanted to explore. In that way, the evolution of the 501 mirrors that of the channel itself, telling a story about the changing nature of IT and the rising importance of managed services in an age of digital transformation.

This year, following Penton’s acquisition by Informa Global, MSPmentor and its sister sites The VAR Guy, Talkin’ Cloud and The WHIR were rolled into one master brand. The new Channel Futures site brought a much-needed, updated user experience and introduced our audience to fresh voices that came to us from Channel Partners Online, our new Informa-owned, telco-focused sister site. Just as our site and coverage have grown more modern and diverse this year, so too has the MSP 501.

2018 brought the largest and most diverse pool of applicants we’ve ever seen for the 501. This year, we saw winners from Colombia to Canada, Sweden to the States. Applicants ranged from one-man shops to organizations of more than 4,000 employees. We had traditional VARs, born-in-the-cloud service providers and, thanks to our Channel Partners readers, a solid pool of telco agent applicants. In total, this year’s 501 reported a combined revenue of $14.5 billion, with nearly $3 billion of that in recurring services.

This year is also a banner year for insights from the 501 data itself, which will be packaged and released this fall. We’re three years into our new methodology, which weights different revenue streams according to the impact they have on the health of the overall business. That means we now have enough data to crunch for historical purposes, too. There are lots of juicy trends that tell the story of the evolving channel, including:

  • Consolidation and the rise of M&A.

  • The critical role peer groups play for successful MSPs.

  • Numbers that prove resale is not, in fact, dead.

  • The top verticals and lines of business the winning MSPs service — if they have a specialty focus at all.

  • What’s driving the cybersecurity market today (hint: phishing attacks totally work).

Also new in 2018 is the debut of a special gala to celebrate our 501 winners at Channel Partners Evolution, held this year in Philadelphia, Oct. 9-12. Here, winners will have the chance to network, with each other and our vendor sponsors, meet our editorial team in person and see how they stack up to the competition. We’ll also be honoring special award winners this year, including Executive of the Year, MSP of the Year, Comeback Kid of the Year, Newcomer AwardDigital Innovator of the Year and Vanguard Award. These companies represent the best and the brightest in the MSP 501 and have demonstrated excellence in areas such as intellectual property development, resiliency and, of course, guiding customers through digital transformation.

In the last 11 years, the MSP 501 has evolved from a ranking of a handful of partners to an insightful, data-rich full report that does more than name the top MSPs in the world; it shows you how they got there. I am proud of the diversity of partners we showcase here, and I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as we liked writing about them.

About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

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