As much as I grew up with software, beautiful hardware still lights me up. Good design, graceful touches, and well built – the marks of something that is just downright artful. The harsh reality of hardware is that it is, by definition, static. So when change is in the air — especially rapid change — things that are static are invariably not the right answer.

It was only a few years ago that you could build telecom core packet networks that would work for years. The basis of these networks would be highly specialized hardware that shipped in chassis and had special chips for performing very specific tasks. Today, the rate of change is so fast that inelastic, specialized hardware just doesn’t work anymore. As I have the pleasure of meeting various mobile telecom providers, it is clear that they have long concluded that static hardware is dead.

Answers widely vary by telco as far as how they are approaching the problem. For some, it’s all about software. Others, it’s about maximizing density. And some simply want to make sure that whatever the form-factor, they can easily stretch the capacity to the level they need quickly and easily without having to undo what has been done. This gives them the agility they need to quickly respond to changing market conditions and instantiate whatever capacity they need anywhere in the world.

Approaching 100M subscribers, NetScaler has been growing at a steady clip as an increasing number of telecom providers make the transition towards a software orientation in their networks. While the complete decision tree for these providers vary, the three thematic elements stand out:

1. TriScale

The exact types of elasticity needed have a lot of variation. For some, it’s all about the managing rapid growth (as a percentage) of their overall traffic. Others it is about density, and for others it’s about scale-out architectures. In all cases, the driving concern is cost – how do they cope with the rapid growth without having to forklift their existing environment when they see a surge of growth.

TriScale provides this elasticity both in how the technology itself can grow as well as in pricing. With the ability to scale-up, scale-in, and scale-out, TriScale makes these transitions easy. Consider the example of someone that has invested in a 15Gbps solution. With scale-up, the price of moving to 42Gbps is simply the delta between the units which is significantly less than the cost of having to rip and replace.

2. Experience

Citrix has been present in the packet core for over 10 years, starting with video optimization and later expanding to include load balancing. The necessary operational needs of supporting telcos are well established and the technology knowhow of making the packet core perform well are strong elements of the culture.

The resulting impact has been a steady growth that makes NetScaler provide services to almost  100M subscribers.

3. NFV-ready

NetScaler is a service ready for adoption in a packet core architected around NFV. The platform’s extensive work in virtualization across the datacenter and cloud are key assets in demonstrating the know-how to help telcos make the leap as well. In fact, NetScaler powers over 75% of the cloud infrastructure world-wide – experience that our telco customers have grown to value as they learn to cope with the drastic shifts in load that are just another day amongst cloud providers.

The technology required to integrate with these environments are all strategic assets that make our telco customers put NetScaler into the packet core: APIs, new networking protocols like VXLAN, and support for modern service chaining technologies from the likes of Cisco.

As telcos consider their strategy for how they are moving into the software oriented packet core, a careful look into how NetScaler can help drive that transition is a step that an increasing number of telcos are taking every day. For additional information on how NetScaler can help you in the telco, take a look at http://www.citrix.com/netscaler.