SD WAN vs VPN

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Updated September 12, 2022

Reliable and secure network solutions are highly sought as offices transition to remote or semi-remote practices. And businesses often address this by employing the best VPNs to secure sensitive data as it passes through cyberspace. But VPNs aren’t the only answer to the need for a private network. For the sake of variety, below, we’re comparing VPNs vs SD-WANS.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • SD-WANs and VPNs are network services that create private connections to secure the data transactions of remote offices and employees.
  • VPNs are recommended for smaller enterprises that don’t have global offices but desire the protective services of a private network.
  • SD-WANs are scalable for massive organizations, delivering outstanding application performance through cloud-based network trafficking.

And if you complete this and want to check out more organizational approaches to data protection, feel free to hop into our article on SDPs vs VPNs.

Insider Tip

Smaller businesses and organizations often don’t need the massive performance and geographic scalability that SD-WAN offers.

Comparing VPN vs SD-WAN

Both VPN and SD-WAN appliances help corporate networks establish secure, reliable connections. But given technology moves at such a blinding pace, these different network options use competing methods to create such connections.

VPNs, or virtual private networks, connect users to physical data servers that create secure tunnels for digital information to travel through so that it can’t be surveilled or stolen. These VPN tunnels encrypt all data and remove the IP address to render all online activity anonymous.

SD-WAN stands for “Software-Defined Wide Area Network.” SD-WAN technology combines business networks across different connection types–whether it be broadband, mobile networks, or MPLS. Unifying these connections allows the SD-WAN provider to create a single network and regulate all user traffic. And unlike VPNs, SD-WAN is entirely cloud-based, allowing for easy scalability.

Another essential measure to keep data from falling into the wrong hands is using proper password protection technology. For those who have yet to use such a measure, check out our guide to the best family password managers, like 1Password vs Dashlane.

Warning

Always be wary of using free private network options, as they are notorious for harvesting user data.

Data Security

Either network solution provides outstanding data security using the same data encryption methods. However, not all SD-WAN service providers automatically set you up with data encryption. But users can always add third-party encryption and firewalls to their SD-WAN service.

On the other hand, VPNs are expressly built to protect all internet traffic and free users from geographic censorship or restrictions. Read our resource comparing proxies vs. VPNs for more alternatives on data security methods.

Network Performance

Performance is where SD-WAN displays its superior quality of service over VPNs. The cloud-based infrastructure removes any latency that comes from a geographical distance. And additionally, SD-WAN has dynamic path selection, which means that the cloud servers analyze the data passing from one device to another. Path selection optimizes the level of encryption, increasing the security and speed of the overall user experience.

STAT: One report shows that implementing an SD-WAN increased organizational efficiency by 12%. (source)

Basic internet VPNs sometimes suffer latency issues because they operate on physical servers, meaning distance can impede data transfer. It’s important to note that there are different types of VPNs, which vary by performance. For more on this, be sure to look into our guide comparing SSL VPN vs IPsec.

Cost

VPNs are much cheaper than SD-WANs, costing about $5 to $20 per month because they are simpler and have less overhead. On the other hand, SD-WANS cost businesses anywhere from $100 to $1,000.

SD-WAN vs VPN FAQs

What is VPN protocol?

A protocol is how a VPN implements data transfer and affects the level of security, speed, and consistency of the connection.

Do SD-WANs fully replace VPNs?

SD-WANs are a fully operational private network, so yes. But make sure they are set up with the proper safety features.

What is a traditional WAN?

A WAN (Wide Area Network) is similar to an SD-WAN, except it connects networks via physical data processing servers instead of through the cloud.
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