Managed services providers (MSPs) may want to take note of a recent Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) report that revealed an increase in worldwide IT operations management (ITOM) software revenue in 2012, totaling $18 billion, up 4.8 percent from $17 billion in 2011. While top ITOM vendors, including IBM (IBM), CA Technologies (CA), BMC Software (BMC) and HP (HPQ), ranked high, they also took hits from upcoming vendors. Which investments have driven the growth of the ITOM market? We'll reveal the answer, along with other details from Gartner's report.

Continued investments in virtualization management tools and promising cloud computing technologies were key drivers in the ITOM category, Gartner said. There was also strong growth in workload automation and IT process automation.

ITOM vendor revenue slowed down, but it's the economy's fault

Gartner Research Director Laurie Wurster in her prepared remarks pointed to slow economic growth, tight IT budgets, and merger and acquisition (M&A) activity for vendors -- all of which led to revenue growth slowing to moderate single-digits following two consecutive years of double-digit growth.

"Nevertheless, the ITOM market did manage to grow slightly above the average growth rate of the infrastructure software market, and by doing so it gained share of IT budgets," she said.

The top four vendors plus Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) grew 0.6 percent in 2012, compared with 7 percent growth in 2011, and accounted for 55 percent market share. Market share rankings stayed the same, with IBM leading the pack, CA Technologies second, BMC Software third and Microsoft fourth.

While Microsoft was not on top for market share, it led the pack with year-over-year growth of 16 percent, while the rest remained steady or declined.

Where will the future lead ITOM?

Wurster said the channel should pay attention to those vendors with "revenue ranging from $100 million to $500 million."

"Strategies on business models (software as a service [SaaS], subscription and cloud-based), as well as partnering programs to obtain reach into regions outside North America, Western Europe and mature Asia/Pacific, will be key to growth," she added.

North America, Western Europe and mature Asia/Pacific were the prime consumers of ITOM software in 2012.