Adopting Software-Defined Networks at the Enterprise Level

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To manage ongoing information security challenges in the internal organizational environment, leaders and key stakeholders must work collaboratively to develop strategies to protect sensitive client data and simultaneously maintain a competitive advantage while allocating limited resources efficiently.  Clients have unique and pressing needs that require businesses to develop custom solutions for new challenges that have implications for maintaining optimal satisfaction levels.  Accordingly, the decision-making processes of leaders and key stakeholders involved in enhancing the information security of a local network infrastructure must reflect considerations of resource constraints.  Businesses that allocate limited resource effectively towards enhancing information security have leaders and key stakeholders who exercise due diligence in ensuring that enterprise-level decisions do not reflect negatively on maintaining a bottom line.  

1.1 Statement of the Problem

The major research problem addressed in this study concerns the broad challenges experienced among business enterprises that integrate software-defined networks (SDNs) into core organizational processes.  Accordingly, the study aims to answer three key research questions: 

1. What are the major challenges faced by businesses that adopt SDNs?

2. What types of value do SDNs contribute to businesses?

3. How does the integration of SDNs into organizational processes influence the end-user experience?

Each of the three research questions aims to address the research problem by developing a literature review that defines concepts and methodologies illustrating results produced by applications of SDNs in heterogeneous business contexts.  Moreover, the research questions will assist with conducting a pilot study and writing a qualitative report illustrating the efficacy of SDNs in various business environments.  The research questions will also assist with developing a program for leaders and key stakeholders of businesses to consider during the process of integrating SDNs into an information security infrastructure.  Data provided by interviews with businesses leaders and key technology stakeholders provide even further guidance towards answering each of the research questions.  Interviews with leaders and stakeholders provide insights into which information security strategies and policy mechanisms governing the networked environment provide more opportunities to integrate SDNs at the enterprise level.  Insights from the interview data will also help with determining whether findings of this study align with results produced in prior investigations highlighting the value-based efficacy of SDNs across business environments.

1.2 Significance of the Problem

The significance of the research problem addressed in this study reflects the need to adopt a small-scale experimental model to evaluate the effects of time, cost, and events on outcomes.  Accordingly, the study presented here aims to address challenges common in full-scale research projects.  To clarify, however, pilot studies are not similar to case studies insomuch as the latter provide an empirical basis for describing specific influences of variables on findings already produced in a controlled environment.  Whereas case studies often constitute highly formalized research methods, pilot studies are useful in guiding researchers who must remain cautious of design issues.  Case studies may also reflect the outcomes of extensive research performed across multiple organizational contexts to provide a dynamic overview of comparisons and contrasts associated with how businesses integrate SDNs to enhance information security for clients who have sensitive data stored either in traditional or cloud-based servers.  

Secondly, the significance of this problem regards the need to test experimental outcomes before assessing their value with or against findings contained in prior studies.  Pilot studies are often conducted before large-scale quantitative investigations produce empirically-driven findings that provide an overview of the relationship between organizational performance and information security over time.  Compared to large-scale investigations, pilot studies are more cost-effective.  Researchers from preliminary findings of pilot studies to develop and test hypotheses in case studies or large-scale investigations designed to produce empirical findings.  Likewise, researchers may draw from the preliminary findings of pilot studies to produce more clearly defined outcomes associated with how business leaders and key stakeholders may integrate SDNs to enhance information security as well as improve end-user experience.  

1.3 Strategies Taken to Solve the Problem

Pilot studies often require the application of an experimental model to achieve desired results by manipulating variables and by identifying patterns of behavioral change in a specific organizational environment.  Accordingly, the pilot study conducted here must entail that researchers adopt strategies addressing the importance of time in grounding causal relationships between variables.  The notion that cause precedes effect is of special significance to this pilot study as variables governing information security across businesses that integrate SDNs must have leaders and key stakeholders who predict outcomes accurately concerning the state of a localized network environment.  From conducting a pilot study, business leaders and key technology shareholders may subsequently develop strategies to achieve more empirically sound conclusions in large-scale investigations determining causal relationships between variables.  Similarly, conducting a pilot study entails that statistical models designed to test the empirical value of causal relationships between variables in a localized network environment confirm what researchers have discussed in prior studies.  

In the strictest sense, however, the strategies taken to conduct a pilot study reflect how researchers must exercise caution in manipulating variables that have empirical value for large-scale investigations.  The variables that researchers choose to manipulate entail a random assignment of subjects between groups.  Researchers who conduct pilot studies and expand them into large-scale investigations may test only one effect of a variable within dynamic organizational environments.  Concurrently, researchers must know which variables require the most extensive testing and measurement before considering them as significant for producing valuable findings in large-scale investigations.  

1.4 Scope of the Present Study

Since the project undertaken here is a pilot study, its scope is far-reaching as the implications of findings have significance for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and multinational corporations (MNCs) alike.  However, the scope of this pilot study is also limited by its inclusion of insights derived from fewer cases and interview participants.  For example, pilot studies may test variables on only a small number of subjects before extrapolating the findings to large-scale investigations.  The procedures of pilot studies are also limited to such an extent that researchers who study information security have fewer resources at their disposal for testing the relationships between dependent and independent variables.  Though pilot studies may help researchers in the field of information security work out potential problems common to large-scale investigations before testing hypotheses, some researcher may observe that preliminary findings may provide little value towards answering research questions or solving problems indicative of gaps in knowledge between business leaders and key stakeholders directly involved in sustaining optimal organizational performance levels. 

Secondly, the scope of pilot studies is both far-reaching yet limited in allowing researchers to plan carefully.  While the statistical or analytical models selected to test relationships between variables in pilot studies, their relevance to larger-scale investigations may appear minimal in consideration of how data collection procedures applied gather information as efficiently as possible.  Yet, the relatively constrained scope of pilot studies has significance for researchers who recognize how empirical investigations necessitate the manipulation of independent variables.  Researchers who conduct pilot studies often attempt to measure the relationships between multiple variables.  Statistical and analytical models that produce the clearest results will likely have the most relevance for testing hypotheses in large-scale investigations.  Concurrently, the relatively constrained scope of pilot studies has significance for researcher with limited experience conducting large-scale investigations that require an application of sophisticated testing models to test empirical relationships between variables.  Considering the nature of this project, the scope of a pilot study indicates how some researchers are willing to explore topic areas that could provide valuable contributions.  

1.5 Organization of the Study

The organization of this study is as follows.  Section 2 provides a current state analysis regarding the challenges associated with integrating SDNs at the enterprise level.  The current state analysis (CSA) indicates that integration challenges reflect market competition for high-level protection of sensitive client data stored in wireless networks or cloud-based servers.  Specific to this study, the CSA provides specifications as to the parameters set by this pilot study exploring how businesses may not only produce value from integration SDNs but may also improve the end-user experience.  Section 3 briefly describes the materials and methods used in this pilot study to provide recommendations for leaders and key technology stakeholders of businesses to mitigate security threats and network vulnerabilities in a localized information architectural framework.  The materials and methods included in this study are the interviews with business leaders and key technology stakeholders who have already adopted or who have considered adopting SDNs at the enterprise level to protect sensitive client data stored in wireless networks or cloud-based servers.  This section also describes how the materials and methods included in this study have a contingent influence on findings produced by large-scale investigations containing significant empirical value for information security researchers.  

Section 4 provides an extensive review of the theoretical and conceptual literature on SDN integration at the enterprise level.  The review of the literature provides groundwork for conducting this pilot study as some propositions and concepts require clarification based on an organizational context evaluated by researchers who extrapolate findings to conduct large-scale investigations.  This section also provides a detailed analysis of solutions and strategies that businesses have used to mitigate known security threats and network vulnerabilities in a localized data architecture.  

Section 5 includes a descriptive analysis of findings obtained from interviews with business leaders and key technology shareholders who have already integrated or who are considering integrating SDNs into the internal organizational environment.  The descriptive analysis of findings provides an indication into how information security strategies that involve integrating SDNs improve user experience in concurrence with organizational performance.  Moreover, this section attempts to correlate information contained in the CSA with research findings described in the literature review.  Reliability and validity issues receive close attention as well in illustrating the significance of testing findings in prior studies with results included in pilot studies that may have implications for conducting large-scale investigations.  

Sections 6 and 7 conclude this study by providing a succinct interpretation of the results and analysis in correspond with answering all three research questions.  In particular, Section VI include a discussion of results and analysis as indicated by how the research questions, CSA, materials and methods, and literature review has implication for developing empirical testing models covering enterprise-level SDN integration.  Section VII provides a detailed yet concise summary of this pilot study.  The summary includes a description of research questions and main findings relevant for conducting larger studies in the future.  

2. Current State Analysis and Project Specifications

The Current State Analysis (CSA) describes business functions, “as is” business processes, “as is” business services, stakeholders, findings, and recommendations.  Particularly in business environments that have leaders and key technology stakeholders who have adopted an agile approach to information security, the CSA provides outputs of a project success concerning an ongoing problem that requires continued research and development.  Significantly, the CSA describes how performance issues in the internal organizational environment are indicative of businesses that allow known security threats and known network vulnerabilities to remain largely undetected.  

2.1 Business Functions

For small businesses, the CSA indicates that leaders and key stakeholders should consider implementing SDN prototypes at the enterprise level to produce an internal organizational environment characterized by direct and more centralized control (Jammal).  The functions of small businesses often necessitate centralization as data transmission flows must reflect policies governing data packets and their intended destination within a localized network security infrastructure.  Accordingly, researchers have noted that tools like Ethane provide leaders and key stakeholders involved directly in the functions of small businesses with opportunities to experiment with programming languages that governing database security.  

Ethane has relevance to this study because of its capacity to serve 30 hosts in a small business and support up to 10,000 new flow requests per second in smaller network designs [1].  However, two major limitations of Ethane include its incongruity with traditional networking techniques requiring foreknowledge of users and nodes.  Other limitations of Ethane include a demand for control over routing at the flow level.  Primarily because of these two limitation, information security professionals have developed alternative SDN prototypes such as NOX to access source, destination information, and routing modules capable of performing granular calculations of network scalability [1].  Thus, the CSA for small businesses indicates that some SDNs lack the appropriate mechanisms for protecting large volumes of sensitive client information stored in wireless networks or cloud-based servers.  

For medium-sized enterprises, the CSA indicates that leaders and key stakeholders should consider developing sophisticated policies that govern network security and allocate resources more efficiently at the enterprise level.  Medium-sized enterprises that integrate SDNs into localized network infrastructures have leaders and key technology stakeholders who are responsible for providing clear definitions of management functions to exercise direct control over network behaviors [2].  Similarly, medium-sized enterprises are likely to have a localized network environment comprised of hundreds or thousands of devices [3].  Medium-sized enterprises have highly diversified networks that entail the use of equipment, applications, and services manufactured by competing firms.  Accordingly, the heterogeneity of network infrastructures in medium-sized enterprises owes much to complex computer systems that provide leaders and stakeholders with ideal levels of control over which behaviors will sustain optimal performance levels.  Along these lines, medium-sized enterprises often need hierarchical control layers implemented to act as a proxy between end-user experience and behaviors affecting the efficacy of security applications [4].  Hierarchical control layers ensure that medium-sized businesses do not experience congestion.  As such, hierarchical control layers govern which types of information travel in fast or slow lanes [5].  Hierarchical control layers also provide businesses with resources for leaders and key stakeholders to exercise direct control over service quality for sustaining end-user satisfaction.  

Because medium-sized enterprises need hierarchical control layers in place to govern the localized network environment, researchers have recommended that leaders and key stakeholders should envision developing a multi-tier computing architecture to cover mobile and wireless devices.  Quality of experience (QOE) requirements by clients of medium-sized enterprises who have rapidly shifting needs for technological innovation have significance as leaders and stakeholders must facilitate resource acquisition to provide an extra layer of data protection [6].  Accordingly, medium-sized enterprises that have a multi-tier computing architecture developed to secure sensitive client data in wireless networks or cloud-based servers produce tradeoffs between delay and computation power [7].  Especially with regard to SDN integration, the business functions of medium-sized enterprise depend on hierarchical control layers to contribute resources for mitigating known security threats and network vulnerabilities. As such, the CSA for the business functions of medium-sized enterprises indicates how attention paid to interrelated components in physical network infrastructures can provide empirical evidence of behaviors that require more direct control.  

For large businesses, the CSA indicates how integrating SDNs successfully at the enterprise level produces a more dynamic environment in which leaders and stakeholders should have more direct control over information traffic flows yet must still process large volumes of data in governing core organizational functions.  Here, researchers have proposed that large businesses should consider integrating proposals for scripting language to enable security as a convenient service [8].  As more businesses gravitate towards storing sensitive client data in cloud-based services, proposals for scripting language imply that businesses should include policy mechanisms for using encryption and decryption technologies maintain the security of an interface between control and data planes.  The general design of scripting language resides primarily in how information security professionals write programs that conform to established industry standards and other regulations yet also provide a competitive edge concerning the protection of sensitive client data. 

The organizational arrangements of large business environments evidently influence how effectively leaders and stakeholders integrate SDNs into core functions.  Large businesses require data centers sizable enough to maintain operations yet protect sensitive consumer data from emerging security threats and network vulnerabilities [9].  Leaders and stakeholders may adopt scripting languages to mitigate disasters from occurring in cloud-based servers.  Alternatively, large businesses may enhance the scope of hierarchical control layers when leaders and stakeholders illustrate which regulations apply specifically towards protecting heterogeneous information sets provided by clients. 

Depending on the geographical origin of information provided to large businesses by clients, policies implemented in large business environment may appear unenforceable depending on the layer of security where some data are vulnerable to emerging threats while others may only entail a need for simulation training [9].  However, the geographical origin of client data effectively mandates that business leaders and key technology stakeholders should work towards exercising more direct control over multiple domains in the networked security environment [3].  Each domain would then need to provide businesses with a communication interface for coordinating information shared between data networks and improving decision-making processes that shape policy.  Moreover, each domain of large business would require leaders and key stakeholders to consider how functions in each organizational unit indicate sufficient levels of complexity yet require more effective coordination to streamline processes that support policy-related decision-making processes. 

2.2 “As Is” Business Processes and Services

Concerning “as is” business processes and services, the CSA is most applies directly to analyzing goals of clarifying the current state in which businesses operate.  The “as is” business process typically contains a description, list of roles, and exceptions.  Yet, the ability to access key stakeholders who are directly responsible for allocating technological resources that sustain a localized network security infrastructure is critical for ensuring that SDN integration produces the most effective long-term outcomes.  Secondly, the ability to access key stakeholders has significance for this pilot study as outlines of processes and services indicate how some professionals may exercise direct control over network security functions yet may not routinely have oversight at all times.  For the small, medium-sized, and large-sized businesses included in this study, access to at least one key stakeholder involved directly in maintaining the localized network security infrastructure of an organization was important for defining the relationships between interlocking components in a dynamic network.  Access to stakeholders from each of the businesses included in this pilot study was of further importance with regard to protecting sensitive client data stored in wireless networks and cloud-based servers.  As described in the Results and Analysis section (Section 4), the stakeholders who granted access to an overview of interlocking components in a localized network security infrastructure helped with closing gaps in knowledge that researchers who conducted prior studies may not have noticed.  Furthermore, the stakeholders of businesses represented in this pilot study described strategies considered important for producing optimal conditions in a specialized organizational context.  

The “as is” business process is considered appropriate for documenting a CSA.  “As is” business processes and services are also helpful in ensuring that the leaders and key technology stakeholders represented in this pilot study have a solid theoretical foundation from which to integrate SDNs effectively into a localized network security infrastructure.  Accordingly, “as is” business processes and services illustrate key issues experienced by clients who have sensitive data stored in wireless networks, cloud-based servers, or both.  Leaders and key stakeholders of businesses represented in this pilot study have experienced confusion over which processes and services to implement in various situations that indicate a security threat or network vulnerability.  Similarly, leaders and key stakeholders of medium-sized business or larger organizations have feel compelled to streamline some core organizational processes to document the empirical effects of service integration on network behaviors occurring at the enterprise level.  Leaders and key stakeholders of businesses represented in this pilot study may not have the appropriate enterprise-level strategies implemented to foster long-term improvements in organizational functions.  Yet, considerations of “as is” business processes and services lead to recommendations for integrating a “to be” SDN type across heterogeneous environments.  

2.3 Stakeholders

The stakeholders included in this pilot study are individuals who possess varying degrees of information security knowledge.  Three (n = 3) key stakeholders were interviewed in this pilot study to provide insights on which technology-driven challenges businesses face today.  The interviewees also provided insights about the perceived and actual value of integrating SDNs at the enterprise level into a small, medium, and large business.  Moreover, each of the three key stakeholders interviewed for this pilot study provided insights regarding how SDN integration improves the end-user experience.  Each of the three key stakeholders represented a small business, medium-sized enterprise, and larger corporate-like environments.  Furthermore, each of the stakeholders provided insights about the possible consequences that may follow directly from integrating SDNs in heterogeneous organizational contexts.  

2.4 Recommendations for “To Be” Business Processes 

Some researchers suggest that context-aware personalized recommendations may allow leaders and key stakeholders of the businesses represented in this pilot study to improve the end-user experience by integrating SDNs into networks that have not yet taken full advantage of potential value [10].  Across small, medium, and larger business contexts, the context-aware personalized recommendations optimize the value produced in mobile and wireless networks based on how exercises of direct control influence network behaviors.  Accordingly, context-aware personalized recommendations solve challenges experienced in heterogeneous business environments that affect end-user experience and provide varying levels of security over sensitive data.  Depending on the physical environment of businesses and the preferences of individual users, context-aware personalized recommendations may improve the current state by providing leaders and key stakeholders with multiple options for considering which SDNs integrated at the enterprise level will produce the most sustainable empirical outcomes in future large-scale investigations. 

2.5 Summary and Transition

The CSA indicated how the functions of small businesses depend on how leaders and key stakeholders coordinate enterprise-level resources to integrate SDN prototypes that provide more direct control over network functions.  Tools like Ethane may provide small businesses with some degree of leverage.  However, it limitations imply that most small businesses lack sufficient policy mechanisms for protecting large volumes of sensitive client data stored in wireless networks or cloud-based servers.  Secondly, the CSA indicated that medium-sized enterprises must have sophisticated enterprise-level policies governing information and network security to enhance client data protection.  Hierarchical control layers may provide leaders and key stakeholder with the means to implement policies that improve end-user satisfaction.  Yet, the CSA indicated how SDN integration in large businesses should produce a more dynamic environment in which direct control over traffic flows via scripting language or encryption and decryption technologies provides a competitive edge.  

3. Materials and Methods

The materials and methods included in this study are interview data obtained from the three participants who responded to questions about integrating SDNs into core network and business functions.  Questions delivered to the three stakeholders were developed in alignment with the theoretical and conceptual background of SDNs as defined by researchers who conducted prior empirical investigations.  Accordingly, information about how a localized network security infrastructure functions constituted materials relevant to this pilot study insofar as the technological equipment of software programs allowed for descriptions of “as is” businesses processes and services in heterogeneous organizational contexts.  Descriptions of key network security functions in the small, medium-sized, and larger enterprises also constituted that lent credibility to the analysis of study findings.  Interview data obtained from the key stakeholders were recorded onto a mobile device and then transcribed verbatim.  Each interview transcript was then coded for dominant and minor themes that either confirmed or did not confirm findings presented in reviews of the extent scholarly and professional literature.  

All of the participants selected to provide interview data received a letter of invitation and a letter of informed consent that described the nature of this pilot study in thorough detail.  Participants selected to participate in this pilot study had the option of choosing to not interview questions that could have produced answers regarding trade secrets or other information considered strictly proprietary for the specific organizational environment.  Concurrently, the participants were informed that this pilot study would use pseudonyms to describe how SDN integration resolved challenges facing the business environment, increased value production at the enterprise level, and improved the end-user experience after leaders and key stakeholders integrate software programming recommendations successfully.  

Since this pilot study involved the use of human participants, approval from an institutional review board (IRB) was necessary to assess the level of risk that selected participants may have incurred upon providing information about the links between SDN integration and improvements in business performance.  IRBs are independent ethics committees consisting of at least three members who review methods included in a research proposal and determine their ethical consequences.  In particular, IRBs are common when researchers involve human participants in health and social sciences studies.  For this pilot study, members of the IRB performed a risk-benefit analysis to determine whether participants selected for interviews would incur any legal, professional, financial, or psychological harm by answering questions about SDN integration at the enterprise level.  Since each of the participants received a letter of invitation and a letter of informed consent, members of the IRB determined that this pilot study would pose no risk of harm. 

3.1 Reliability and Validity

Reliability and validity issues received close attention in illustrating the significance of testing findings in prior studies with results included in pilot studies that may have implications for conducting large-scale empirical investigations.  Because this project is a pilot study, tests for the reliability and validity of results enhanced data quality as information that applies across heterogeneous organizational contexts influenced how researchers define their utility as variables in large-scale empirical investigations.  Accordingly, the reliability and validity of interview data provided by the participants depended on how effectively the principal investigator asked questions that elicited detailed responses.  Based on the data collection procedures used to obtain information about SDN integration across heterogeneous organizational contexts, reliability and validity issues received close attention as responses to questions were thematically organized.  

Reliability and validity were also important to consider in determining whether results of this pilot study were accurate based on the variables measured.  Reliable interview data provided by the three study participants entails that the results are valid and repeatable in future large-scale empirical investigations.  Concerning individual measures, reliability indicates that the results align closely with interview data provided by the three stakeholders included in this pilot study.  Since this study measures the effects of integrating SDNs in small, medium, and large businesses as the enterprise level, the methods adopted here must produce similar results in future investigations.  Measurements of variables defined in this study should not produce different results in future investigations.  Conversely, valid interview data provided by the three study participants entails that the materials used to collect information produced genuine results that align closely with findings contained in the academic and professional research literature.  For this pilot study, measuring the effects of integrating SDNs at the enterprise level of small, medium, and large businesses reflected support for relationships identified in prior studies.  However, the internal validity of findings in this pilot study reflected the instruments and procedures used to collect data from published research investigations and interviews with participants.  Internal validity was an indication of how SDN integration represented an independent variable that measured outcomes such as effective solutions to commonly experienced challenges, value production issues at the enterprise level, and end-user issues among clients with sensitive data stored in wireless networks or cloud-based servers.  Concerning external validity, on the other hand, this aspect was critical for determining whether the findings included in this pilot study are generalizable to large-scale empirical investigations.  For this study to have external validity, it was necessary to act on the assumption that SDN integration has only a contingent effect on achieving solutions to commonly experienced challenges, value production issues at the enterprise level, and end-user issues among clients.  Acting on such an assumption entails that future large-scale empirical investigations will produce similar results indicating a contingent effect of SDN integration on fostering organizational improvements at the enterprise level.  Accordingly, the inference to draw is that the strategies for SDN integration have real-world implications based on how leaders and key stakeholders of businesses represented in this pilot study observe a need to maintain direct control over core functions of a localized network security infrastructure.  

Considering the materials and methods used in this pilot study, the relationship between internal and external validity has significance as results produced here may not necessarily predict similar outcomes in future large-scale empirical investigations.  Though the materials and methods included in this study are reliable, they may not necessarily produce valid results in future investigations.  Both reliability and validity are independent based on how outcomes produced by SDN integration have long-term implications for solving challenges, producing value, and sustaining end-user satisfaction.  As such, this pilot study measured the effects of SDN integration as defined by key stakeholders who provided interview data.  

In sum, this section presented the materials and methods that inform how researchers may conduct pilot studies to test preliminary results against those produced in large-scale empirical investigations.  Leading into the following section, theoretical and conceptual frameworks of SDNs receive attention.  As the following suggests, leaders and key stakeholders may integrate SDNs but must implement strategies for exercising direct control and developing working solutions efficiently.  

4. Theoretical and Conceptual Background

This section starts by describing the theoretical and conceptual background of SDNs implemented at the enterprise level by leaders and key technology stakeholders who exercise varying degrees of direct control over core organizational functions in a localized network security environment.  The theoretical and conceptual background functions as a review of the extant literature on SDNs published within the past five years.  Accordingly, this section describes the basic features of SDNs, the enterprise-level value produced by software applications, virtualization, convergence, bandwidth strength, and resource availability and coordination.  The review of professional and academic literature included in this section also discusses SDNs as solutions in mobile, wireless, and cloud-based servers.  Specific to cloud-based SDNs, this section provides a description of how virtualization provides businesses of varying sizes with the assurance the sensitive client data will receive high-level protection.  

Of further relevance is a discussion of approaches developed from information and communication technologies (ICTs) that present businesses with emerging challenges regarding which strategies will produce value and improve end-user experience.  Intrusion detection strategies also receive attention as SDNs allow business leaders and key stakeholders to implement algorithms for collecting empirical data that may have significant implications for developing more rigorous techniques in future large-scale investigations.  Furthermore, a discussion of how policy issues influence the end-user experience informs this section by indicating that improvements to QOE reflect how leaders and key stakeholders address mechanisms governing resource availability and coordination.  Overall, the information presented in this section implies that leaders and key stakeholders may integrate SDNs but must implement strategies for exercising direct control and developing working solutions efficiently.  

4.1 Software-Defined Networks

Theoretical exposition s of software-defined networks (SDNs) inform the nature of this study that explores the challenges businesses experience when leaders and key technology shareholders emphasize producing improvements in user experience.  SDNs have theoretical roots in the research covering network programmability [11].  However, the term did not begin to receive extensive attention until the late 2000s when engineers developed tools like OpenFlow [2, 12].  Such tools provide access to flow tables in switches as well as to routers from external computers to change network layouts and traffic flows in real time [6, 13].  In relation, SDNs emerged as a concept that information security professionals may adopt to address shortcomings in network protocols by emphasizing issues such as packet forwarding controlled and configured on switches themselves [13].  Practically, SDNs provide localized information security networks with state-of-the-art updates referring to the design and configuration of tools that protect sensitive client data.  Since more consumers use wireless networks today to conduct business, SDNs have significance for tackling new and emerging information security challenges faced by many businesses that must allocate resources efficiently towards sustaining a competitive advantage and also maintaining relationships founded on mutual trust. 

From the perspective of service providers, SDNs provide businesses with larger degrees of freedom to operate within operational parameters.  Here, concepts of network resilience, service performance, and quality of experience (QOE) apply towards understanding which practical approach to integrating SDNs will produce the most sustainable outcomes at the enterprise level [6].  SDNs have a unique purpose of modifying information security behaviors in a controlled manner by encouraging leaders and key stakeholders to simply management of an entire infrastructure.  Concurrently, SDNs serve to provide businesses with the resources necessary to evolve in a specific direction.  Businesses that do not have SDNs integrated at the enterprise level to serve a market-specific purpose cannot evolve to introduce adequate mechanisms capable of placing effective controls on network activities.  Because SDNs allow leaders and key stakeholders to exercise direct control over how an internal organizational environment functions, the mechanisms introduced to sustain optimal levels of networked information security must be simplified according to network-specific applications [15].  Businesses may have leaders and key stakeholders who choose to integrate radio access network (RAN) and core network segments into wireless networks designed to protect sensitive client information stored in localized databases.  Yet, some businesses may be too large to accommodate large volumes of sensitive client data.  Although these businesses may increase data storage capacity to accommodate the unique needs of clients, leaders and stakeholders must consider setting limits on what types of safeguards are appropriate for sustaining relationships build on mutual trust. 

4.2 Basic Features of SDNs

The research on SDNs illustrates how its application as a theoretical paradigm delivers four basic features derived from the separation of control and data planes.  Central control and coordination is the premiere feature of SDN that functions to mitigate overhead from traditional resource distribution mechanisms by applying specific protocols [8].  While centralized approaches to SDNs often receive a fair amount of criticism by information security researchers, their ability to deliver organizational change efficiently suggests that closer attention to behaviors in a localized network infrastructure should ideally prevent breakage between traffic flows.  Programmability, the second feature of SDNs, applies to the control and data planes insofar as the implementation of intrusion detection software or new policy mechanisms governs information security practice at the enterprise level.  Programmability entails further that localized network infrastructures with SDNs in place may improve overall business functionality and foster conditions of innovation at each security layer.  As researchers have suggested, programmability indicates how leaders and key technology stakeholders may adopt terms such as “operational expenditure” and “capital expenditures” as variables that provide direct control over information security management [8 p94].  Programmability entailed even further that business storing sensitive client data in cloud-based servers should have more direct control over security protocols designed to detect and mitigate known threats or vulnerabilities.  

Virtualized abstraction, the third feature of SDNs, illustrates how layered designs typically obscure hardware devices from control planes and other software applications available as resources distributed in the internal organizational environment.  In SDNs, virtualized abstraction allows leaders and stakeholders to divide networks into infrastructures governed by divergent policy or other security requirements [8].  This division provides businesses with greater flexibility to facilitate the aggregation and management of available resources as well as reconfigure the internal organizational environment to accommodate significant policy changes.  Fourthly, the feature of openness points to how information security standards should foster professional communities characterized by frequent collaboration to facilitate efficient resource coordination.  As researchers have noted, openness promotes collaboration as leaders and key technology shareholders of competing businesses insist on utilizing creativity towards achieving novel solutions [8].  The capacity of businesses to develop novel ideas by experimenting with ideas like prototyping and testing indicate further how SDNs have significance for improving performance and enhancing the end-user experience.  Particularly in wireless and mobile networks, each four features of SDNs is significant as businesses must adapt to rapidly shifting consumer demand to compete successfully in respective markets.   

4.3 Applications of OpenFlow 

Researchers have paid particularly close attention to the value produced by OpenFlow applications at the enterprise level.  In concurrence with the research attention paid to SDNs, that attributed to OpenFlow indicates how businesses like Google are trendsetters in utilizing cloud-based servers as effective strategies for protecting sensitive client data [2].  Deploying OpenFlow must, however, occur in phases representative of research developments tested across multiple organizational contexts.  Businesses that test the value of OpenFlow have leaders and key technology stakeholders interested in maintaining direct control over how professional ecosystems function.  Concurrently, leaders and shareholders who invest in OpenFlow play critical roles in maintaining direct control over traffic flows between data entry points in communication networks [2].  Depending on the present conditions of a localized network infrastructure, leaders and key technology shareholders involved directly in maintaining business operations may construct network maps to determine whether OpenFlow may produce recommendations for mitigating threats and vulnerabilities in concurrence with those made from applications of SDNs.  

Though researchers noted how OpenFlow revitalizes businesses suffering from a recent data breach, knowledge about the internal and external mechanisms capable of providing direct control is necessary to achieve desired results [20].  OpenFlow provides businesses with a direct interface that allows leaders and key stakeholders to perform simulation experiments in testing localized network infrastructures for threats and vulnerabilities.  Yet, the growing use of cloud-based servers to store sensitive client data suggests that real-time applications of offloading and load balancing algorithms may produce the most ideal conditions possible with regard to maintaining information security.   

4.4 Virtualization in SDNs

The research on SDNs also refers to its application in network function virtualization (NFV), network virtualization (NV), and software-defined radio (SDR) as enablers with common features that include greater flexibility, reconfigurability, and programmability [12].  Specifically, SDN and SDR are software-defined insofar as their common features allow leaders and key technology stakeholders to exhibit direct control over the outcomes produced after integrating enterprise-level solutions into a network architecture.  The common features of NFV and NV indicate that terms like virtualization should encourage leaders and key stakeholders to share resources to simply programming and configuration procedures.  

However, the theoretical aspects of SDNs point to how leaders and key stakeholders should pay closer attention to main ideas concerning the separation of control planes from data planes [1, 7, 17], applications of a centralized control model of network states, and the implementation of novel network controls in conjunction with other management functions to enhance policy-related decision-making across an entire network infrastructure [12].  Such decisions reflect whether devices introduced into a business environment will produce real-world implications if leaders and stakeholders develop simulation tools that provide a backbone for acquiring tacit knowledge of how to exercise direct control over network functions.  By extension, the ability of leaders and key stakeholders to exercise direct control over which technology resources businesses will implement towards enhancing local network security indicates which policies may guide professional behaviors in the most effective manner possible.  

With regard to NFV, however, the research on SDNs indicates how shifts in consumer demands for innovative technologies led to perspectival changes concerning which enterprise-level strategies leaders and key stakeholders chose to implement [13, 17]  Particularly because SDNs separate data and control planes in devices connected to wireless networks, NFV complements the notion of centralized control over core processes by leaders and key stakeholders [1, 7, 13]  Accordingly, the shifts in consumer demand for innovative technologies require businesses to implement enterprise-level solutions such as load balancers and firewalls towards reducing operational costs [17].  Yet, most recent applications of SDNs have been in mobile environments maintained by large financial investments.  Since SDNs operate mostly on an aggregate level, the professional capacity of leaders and key stakeholders to mitigate known threats and vulnerabilities in the networked security environment depends on how effectively resources distributed to specific components improve organizational functions.  Resources distributed in wireless and mobile network infrastructures may generate predictable results about which threats or vulnerabilities require ongoing attention.  Yet, the emergence of new and emerging threats suggests that SDNs permitting greater degrees of direct control must undergo continued experimentation to achieve optimal results across various business or other organizational contexts that involve storing sensitive client data in a localized database. 

In relation to SDRs, researchers have noted that SDNs provide the space for routers and switches to run simple programs.  Here, SDNs provide leaders and key stakeholders with opportunities to alter a policy environment by modifying or eliminating stores for data packets in localized network infrastructure [18].  Manufacturers who produce and market programmable switches and routers deployed in SDNs note how variances in frequency bands have specific commercial implications for businesses that operate networked servers to leverage a security infrastructure in producing value.  However, the literature suggests that manufacturers who produce and market switches and routers for SDNs must provide businesses with options to customize operations in configuring data as well as in separating data and control planes [1, 7, 17-18].  The separation process entails that SDNs acting on a control plane must provide signals and switches that virtualization may otherwise divide or consolidate [7, 18].  Data planes, on the other hand, act on physical link layers while SDNs themselves act on upper layers and virtualization occurs in multiple layers.  

4.5 Endorsement of SDN Convergence Techniques

Interestingly enough, the research literature demonstrates an extensive focus on single isolated techniques for endorsing convergence in the business environment [18].  Technology convergence that supports SDNs frequently overlaps with applications interacting in heterogeneous network services that expand programmability and support.  Unfortunately, researchers noted how technology convergence is not possible in management planes of some network interfaces designed to protect sensitive client data.  Though some leaders and key stakeholders may decide to implement satellite technologies into SDNs, the implementation of standard controls is necessary to produce a state of convergence (Ahmed et al.).  Standard controls provide businesses with considerable flexibility when leaders and stakeholders must decide on which innovative technologies to introduce at the enterprise level.   

Undoubtedly, the relationship between SDNs and NFV indicates how satellite technologies may lead to improvements in securing localized networks [12-13, 19].  Yet, with considerable flexibility should come opportunities to overcome challenges regarding issues of control and monetization.  Whereas control indicates that leaders and key stakeholders should maintain direct control over the quality of information transmitted between networked data points, monetization implies that price-sensitive clients seek a high QOE based on the financial resources invested in maintaining information security [5].  Innovative solutions derived from SDNs that attempt to resolve control and monetization challenges provide businesses with the tools for centralizing planes.  High-level solutions are especially critical for businesses that must create special traffic lanes to control the speed of data flows between entry points.  If businesses do not have effective safeguards in place that control the speed of data flows, SDNs are only limited in their capacity to streamline traffic.  

4.6 Fast/Slow Lanes and Bandwidth Strength

Drawing from the previous statements, researchers have noted that SDNs allow businesses to create fast and slow lanes governing the speed at which data travel between transmission and entry points.  The implications of fast and slow lanes for end-user experience are profound insofar as monetization challenges emerge when clients must pay more to receive higher levels of information security [5].  As researchers have noted, leaders and key technology shareholders may allocate bandwidth towards protecting sensitive information stored in databases or cloud-based servers.  Yet, the creation of fast and slow lanes in SDNs indicates that some clients will have sensitive data vulnerable to emerging threats and network vulnerabilities.  Fast and slow lanes evidently improve QOE for clients who have the financial means to invest in resources and policy mechanisms governing localized information security networks.  However, fast and slow lanes decrease QOE for clients who need high levels of information security yet would like to receive the benefits provided by open source platforms.  From the findings, the research suggests that the definitions attributed to SDNs in localized network environments have a unique significance for improving the end-user experience when sensitive client data must transmit between entry points varying in bandwidth.

Leaders and key stakeholders of business must consider which definitions of SDNs as a concept apply towards ensuring adequate resource distribution.  Particularly, definitions of SDNs are significant for determining which bandwidth strengths will apply towards enhancing information security environments [20].  Differences in bandwidth strength reflect how effectively leaders and key technology stakeholders address information security issues.  Bandwidth strength in localized network environments shapes how businesses respond to monetization challenges that may have a negative influence over how much direct control leaders and stakeholders have over core organizational functions.  Similarly, businesses with core technologies that consist of mobile and wireless networks must consider all possible correlations between data volume storage capacity and bandwidth strength.  Leaders and stakeholders who consider such an interrelationship may eventually develop strategies for increasing resource capacity by using immediately available tools more efficiently to maintain optimal states in the internal organizational environment. 

4.7 Resource Availability and Coordination

Further research on bandwidth strength highlights how some businesses that frequently experience resource availability challenges are vulnerable to network congestion.  In particular, researchers noted how mobile and wireless devices are the main contributors to network congestion as increasing consumer demand for these innovative technological products represents a significant challenge related to generating improvements in end-user experience [7].  Businesses that frequently experience constraints in developing the internal resource capacity to enhance QOE for end users may, accordingly, lack the bandwidth strength necessary for ensuring that larger traffic flows are management [7].  By association, constraints in developing the resource capacity to enhance bandwidth strength should provide a sufficient reason for simplifying operations.  Nevertheless, researchers noted that enhancing the bandwidth strength of SDNs to improve QOE for end users must involve a process by which leaders and key stakeholders work collaboratively with information security professionals to implement sound strategies for constructing network routes capable of facilitating stronger data protection [13].  Each strategy considered by leaders and key stakeholders must then provide sufficient time to receive training on which resources will produce the most sustainable empirical performance outcomes.  Thus, businesses that integrate SDNs to enhance the bandwidth strength of localized network infrastructures must construct working protocols designed to centralize the distribution of information flows between communication nodes.

The capacity of businesses to coordinate resources across a wide range of technology platforms indicates how protecting sensitive consumer data is imperative among leaders and stakeholders who have experience performing unique functions [23].  Leaders and shareholders may draw from SDNs to orchestrate an information security program in which resources distributed to critical areas help businesses achieve prioritized goals.  Yet, the decision-making processes of leaders and key stakeholders involved in orchestrating such a program must also address how feedback loops produce explicit and tacit forms of knowledge considered significant for maintaining an optimal information security environment.

4.8 SDNs as “Edge Solutions” in Mobile, Wireless, and Cloud-Based Servers

As “edge solutions,” SDNs provide businesses with an overview of what complications may emerge from ignoring security threats and network vulnerabilities present in a localized environmental context [7 p2361].  SDNs provide some businesses with the most promising solutions that involve separating control from data planes to enable control mechanisms.  Yet, SDNs are also effective in simplifying network management to streamline data flows between entry points in local networks.  From the research, an inference to draw is that SDNs are edge solutions insofar as leaders and key stakeholders search for novel approaches with implications for resources distribution.  SDNs, however, centralize local network intelligence in a software-based controller that allows leaders and key stakeholders to execute complex plans for enhancing the information security environment [7].  By centralizing local network intelligence, SDNs provide edge solutions to businesses that store sensitive client data in cloud-based servers.  

Concurrently, SDNs remove any barriers and restrictions found in mobile or wireless devices that prevent businesses from upholding high levels of information security in a networked environment.  Because many businesses experience resource constraints, however, the resource capacity to uphold high levels of information security depends on how effectively leaders and key stakeholders define the real-world implications of ignoring calls to take proactive steps.  Also because SDNs are edge solutions, their implications for leveraging threats and vulnerabilities in cloud-based servers reflect indicators like cost efficiency, resource availability, and resource sharing.  In particular, the research that outlines a cloud radio access network (CloudRAN) approach highlights a need for more leaders and key stakeholders to participate in trends such as virtualization to identify all possible real-world implications of ignoring threats and vulnerabilities [19].  Virtualization ensures that businesses may develop the resource capacity to handle large volumes of data transmitted at varying speeds along traffic flows.  Moreover, virtualization promotes efficiency in providing leaders and stakeholders with more direct control over network behaviors.  

4.9 Virtualization in Cloud-Based SDNs

Virtualization also ensures that cloud-based SDNs achieve higher levels of efficiency in processing information to improve network reliability [19].  Virtualization bears similarity to virtualized abstraction insofar as simulation efforts provide leaders and key technology stakeholders with the ability to determine which information security strategies will enhance direct control over organizational functions [8, 19].  Particularly when leaders and key stakeholders use mobile or wireless devices to store sensitive client data, virtualization indicates that real-time protection must always be available regardless of the networks utilized to transmit information [10].  In cloud-based servers, virtualization indicates how the CloudRAN approach offers businesses innovative solutions regarding capacity limitations, insufficient expendability, and low utilization.  Solutions to capacity limitations point to how the CloudRAN approach covers transmission and reception signals in one transmission range [10].  Businesses with few mobile and wireless network servers experience difficulties associated with increasing resource capacity to store large volumes of sensitive client data in cloud-based servers.   

Secondly, the solutions for insufficient expendability imply that new base stations are necessary to ensure that businesses can sufficiently maintain the integrity of a localized information security environment.  When leaders and key stakeholders choose to upgrade databases, transmissions of larger data volumes will most likely occur.  However, businesses that integrate solutions f