The Next Managed Services Battleground: Africa?

The Next Managed Services Battleground: Africa?

MSP software providers have spent the past two or three years pushing into Europe and Australia. Now, it seems, the MSP software land grab is stretching into Africa. The latest example: ConnectWise has launched a cloud on Africa's soil. And partners/rivals like Kaseya have been busy working closely with MSPs in South Africa. Here's the update.

First, the latest ConnectWise Cloud move. The PSA (professional services automation) software provider now has clouds in North America, Europe, Australia and Africa. The Africa cloud was announced today. ConnectWise estimates that one-third of its 45,000 individual users run in the cloud (two-thirds run ConnectWise on-premises).

I realize there's more than one way to go global. Strategies vary across the PSA and RMM (remote monitoring and management) market.

In the PSA space:

  • ConnectWise promotes a "have it your way" on-premises and cloud approach. In previous interviews, CEO Arnie Bellini said ConnectWise built localized clouds on individual continents in order to avoid latency and regional compliance issues. Also, ConnectWise launched a Transparency Status Dashboard to help MSPs and VARs track the status of ConnectWise services.
  • Autotask has a pure SaaS strategy. To the best of my knowledge, Autotask continues to host its software in New York. The SaaS platform is available worldwide. I have not heard of any latency issues abroad. I've checked in with Autotask to double-check how and where the SaaS platform is hosted. Updated Dec. 23, 5:15 p.m. eastern: According to Autotask, the company has multiple data centers, in the US and Europe.  More are budgeted and planned for 2011. For content, Autotask uses Akamai web acceleration.
  • Tigerpaw Software prefers an on-premise strategy, working with distributors and partners to push beyond the U.S. and move into markets like Australia.
The situation is more complex in the RMM market. Most of the major players offer on-premise and SaaS options, and those on-premise and SaaS offerings are going global pretty rapidly. But some emerging players are developing localized SaaS deployments. A prime example: CentraStage, a SaaS-centric RMM provider in Europe, plans to launch a SaaS instance on U.S. soil sometime in early 2011.

Africa Moves

Meanwhile, the managed services market in South Africa seems to be heating up. ConnectWise specifically pointed to Africa  as a managed services opportunity today. And earlier this year, Kaseya spoke to me extensively about its growing momentum in South Africa. A key data point worth noting: Most MSPmentor 100 survey participants from South Africa run Kaseya, according to our own analysis.

No doubt, more international moves are coming. At Autoask, new CEO Mark Cattini last week specifically mentioned international opportunities as a key area of focus for 2011. Generally speaking, I sense that the North American MSP software market has matured, European expansion remains somewhat slow, Australia remains hot, while Asia and Africa seem poised for more rapid expansion.

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