Untangle, the open source security specialist, has released the results of its benchmark study for managed service providers. The study, the latest in a growing list of MSP-oriented research, features several key findings. Here's a look at the survey results, based on responses from more than 200 MSPs in the United States. 

According to a press release from Untangle:
  • The MSP model is growing more popular: While over two-thirds of the survey respondents reported having been in the technology reseller business for more than six years, nearly one-third began delivering managed services within the last year.  Further, respondents expressed a clear desire to move away from selling break/fix services and towards the MSP model over the next two years. MSPmentor's perspective: Just be sure not to completely abandon break/fix services. Small businesses will never completely move away from them, so why should you?
  • Automation is the key to MSP growth/scaling: MSPs can scale by increasing employee headcount until they have around 25-50 customer contracts or approximately 500 devices managed.  Beyond this point, MSPs need to accelerate investments in automation (i.e. monitoring & management) and focus on process standardization to achieve the next level of growth.  Nevertheless, new MSPs take three to five years to establish themselves and new entrants should not over invest in automation technology ahead of need. MSPmentor's perspective: We generally recommend that start-up MSPs explore the Master MSP model first, leveraging somebody else's NOC and hosted systems while getting up to speed on managed services.
  • MSPs keep small businesses up-to-date with the latest IT trends: Nearly 40% of respondents already offer VoIP services today, with another 27% considering offering it within a year.  65% offer web content filtering and that number is expected to jump to 84% within a year. MSPmentor's perspective: This somewhat parallels the survey results we found in our own MSPmentor 100 annual survey.
  • Prices have held steady despite a growing number of MSPs serving small businesses: Although pricing models for each service area vary widely, newer MSPs are not leading with discounts, suggesting that prices are not commoditizing.  MSPmentor: Lots of MSPs are worried about the so-called "race to the bottom" on pricing, but so far savvy MSPs are avoiding that temptation.
Also of interest: Untangle avoided the temptation to hype the convergence of managed services with open source. As an open source advocate, I thought Untangle might want to connect the dots between its software strategy and the broader MSP industry.
You can find Untangle's complete survey findings by visiting www.untangle.com/mspstudy. Full disclosure: I'm quoted in Untangle's press release about the survey, but MSPmentor was not involved in the research. We watched it come together from afar.

Untangle's efforts are the latest in a growing list of MSP-oriented survey projects. In addition to our own MSPmentor 100 and MSPmentor 250, here are some other research reports for MSPs.