SD-WAN vs VPN: The Comprehensive Guide

SD-WAN vs VPN: The Comprehensive Guide
SD-WAN vs VPN: The Comprehensive Guide

In the 1990s, many companies couldn't afford to establish a Wide Area Network (WAN) due to limited resources. This is where Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) came in handy and became a cost-effective way to connect remote gateways.

For many years, VPNs have become a popular choice for WAN architectures in businesses. However, just after then, SD-WAN emerged as a popular networking solution.

When deciding between SD-WAN and VPN, companies should evaluate expenses, administration, and routing intelligence.

SD-WAN is often advertised as an improved version of VPN for internet connections, but IT teams need to understand the similarities and differences in more detail.

What is SD-Wan?

SD-WAN is a new way of creating Wide Area Networks (WANs). It is a virtualised service that connects and expands enterprise networks over large geographical distances.

What is a VPN Tunnel?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It is a tool that builds a protected network connection when using public networks. The VPN connection, commonly called a VPN tunnel, ensures the safe transmission of sensitive data. VPNs can drop any unauthorised traffic.

Simply put, a VPN is a secure connection between a device and a network through the internet. This connection is made possible by a standard protocol called IPsec VPN.

Overview of How VPN Works

A VPN directs your device's internet connection to a private server you chose instead of your ISP. This means that when your data goes online, it's coming from the VPN instead of your computer.

The VPN is a middleman between you and the internet, keeping your IP address and identity hidden. Plus, if your data gets intercepted, it will be unreadable until it reaches its destination, thanks to encryption.

Encrypting the connection stops unauthorised individuals from eavesdropping on the traffic and enables remote work.

Overview of How SD-WAN Works

SD-WAN separates applications and network settings from the underlying network services provided by internet or private data service providers. This process makes it easy to add, remove or reconfigure networking services without affecting the network.

SD-WAN also keeps track of the performance of WAN connections and controls traffic to maintain higher speeds and optimise network connectivity.

This approach solves traditional WAN issues such as high bandwidth cost, long deployment and reconfiguration time, and more.

Main Differences Between SD-WAN vs IPsec VPN

The two main differences commonly observed between SD-WAN and VPN are 1. Network Architecture, and 2. Transport Media.

The Network Architecture refers to the way the connection is set up, while the Transport Media refers to how traffic moves through the connections.



SD-WAN solutions create gateways to a fully-connected network of SD-WAN devices. 

VPNs establish point-to-point connections.

SD-WAN allows for optimised traffic routing over various transport media.

VPNs generally send all traffic through a single network link.

Ultimately, SD-WAN and VPNs are two solutions that aim to create secure network connections plus add-on security options.

SD-WAN vs IPsec VPN: Which is Better?

SD-WAN and VPN networks provide different advantages, and selecting the most suitable one for your business necessitates an understanding of your requirements.

To choose a reliable network for your business, consider its needs and the differences in benefits, security, performance, cost, maintenance, and bandwidth between SD-WAN and VPN.

  • Pricing: The cost of SD-WAN compared to VPN is higher due to its complexity. VPN is more affordable and user-friendly, making it an excellent option for companies with few sites.
  • Security: SD-WAN's security measures are inadequate, leaving the network vulnerable to external threats. Protecting the network according to security standards is essential, as one data breach could compromise the entire company database.
  • Popularity: SD-WAN has yet to be widely adopted. Most companies continue to rely on traditional VPN connections for their internal and external operations.
  • Ease of Use: Introducing SD-WAN can create security weaknesses, so planning and deploying it is essential. On the other hand, VPN software is simple to implement, and many trusted providers offer helpful guides and support for troubleshooting.

Overall, VPNs are a good choice because they are affordable and easy to use. But VPNs, too, can be risky because hackers can attack them on the internet. Sometimes, malware can get into a company's network through a remote-access VPN used by employees working from home.

VPNs give priority to the data before it goes into the secure tunnel, but once it's in the tunnel, the network provider can't give it any more priority.

Final Thoughts

The best way to keep your business data safe from cyber-attacks while working from home is to use a secure remote access VPN that follows the Zero Trust approach.

InstaSafe Zero Trust Remote Access solution is a popular option for securely connecting business networks or remote employees to your organisation's network.

It allows remote users to access and use the network just as if they were in the office, and data transmission is secure without worrying about being intercepted or tampered with. Book a Demo.