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SD-WAN vs VPN: Can SD-WAN Replace VPN Completely?

June 4, 2019

SD-WAN vs VPN: Can SD-WAN Replace VPN Completely?

  • Cost
  • QoS (Quality of Service)
  • Safe Cloud Usage

These three factors are defined as VPN+SD-WAN, or SD-WAN is just an attempt to “re-brand” VPN. It is marked as the advanced enterprise-grade VPN to differentiate it from legacy VPNs. In fact, here we are going to discuss the facts about SD-WAN vs VPN. But, first let's travel into the past.  

If we travel a few years back, then VPN was a significant part of networking security. Its property of traffic encryption makes it a level above than others. It, actually, extends the corporate network via encrypted connections across the internet. Since it’s only between the device and the network, the traffic remains secured, while it’s traveling. Even, the employee, working from outside the office premises, can also connect to this network securely. But, it gets failed when we reach out at its network performance. No doubt, VPNs are best at traffic prioritization and encryption; and that’s why these are unparalleled for small businesses that use a single IP backbone. But, if the enterprise has multiple locations, then the latency issues on voice and video transmission might occur.

Therefore, it is very important to manipulate your business requirements, study them, evaluate them comprehensively, and then after switch to one alternative- either it’s VPN or SD-WAN.

A Look at Legacy VPNs!

VPN or Virtual Private Network is a secured network that transmits data in an encrypted form between two end junctures. More often, it is used to connect individual devices to a site or a site to another site. Among which, VPN tunnel or IP tunnel plays a vital role. The tunnel is used to send the data on the private network. This ensures that the data should not be intercepted by any unauthorized source.

At times, you will find out that VPNs have the capability to provide security in two forms:

  • VPN Device: The VPN device or VPN “box” or VPN router is responsible for creating an encrypted tunnel between two same-keyed partners.
  • VPN Firewall: VPN firewall is that uncompromised “protection” that secures the transmitted data over the network.

However, when the VPN device and firewall get integrated, then you will get a VPN device with these two features embedded in it.

So, if you are going to staff VPN into your network, then you will get data, encoded with security algorithms only. (Remember, VPN has more failover time as compared to SD-WAN!!!)

Hence, it is a wiser step to invest your time in asking these three queries, before choosing the one (SD-WAN or VPN):

  • Does your enterprise require great application performance?
  • Is your enterprise stationed at multiple locations; or your client asks for the remote access and less secured networking?
  • Is it essential to manage/ control your own WAN?

Free Download: Increase your WAN insight to fit your high-level needs using this SD-WAN Playbook.

When to Include SD-WAN!

SD-WAN comes into the picture when the enterprises operate at multiple locations and have to rely on the cloud to access data. Moreover, application awareness, remote access, and granular security are also the significant reasons that make companies turn their heads towards SD-WAN. On a different note, SD-WAN doesn’t have end-to-end QoS (Quality of Service), like a Layer 3 MPLS VPN did possess. But, SD-WAN’s local QoS has far more improved properties than basic internet VPN services. It’s because of its granular level of support and the technologies, as caching or application acceleration. People switch to work from home or cafes or hotels, etc. due to the promising features set of SD-WAN.

Where there is cloud technology, security is the priority. And, with SD-WAN, IT people can have the accessibility to check and secure the traffic, on the basis of the user profile and traffic type. In short, you will acquire the robust security that helps you transmit the data easily across the network without any hurdle.

SD-WAN vs VPN: How do they Compare?

Likewise, there are more such differences or, you can say, the advanced attributes of SD-WAN that surpass VPN’s conventional properties, as:

  • Primitively, every enterprise looks for the path with optimal network performance, reliability, flexibility, and full-fledged security at relatively low cost- SD-WAN is the way to choose. It helps in network optimization on the basis of the traffic type.
  • SD-WAN offers “self-healing” property as well, as compared to VPN.
    It automatically repairs any outages occurring across the network of data centers, cloud resources, and branch offices. SD-WAN converges networking and security infrastructure thus ensuring automatic alignment as network topology changes
  • Moreover, if you go through the subject SD-WAN vs VPN in terms of the internet, then SD-WAN is much more comprehensive rather than VPN. It has the competency to empower the basic internet VPNs and to eliminate global MPLS & VPLS networks.
  • No one can predict the future, but businesses always want the solution that delivers and will deliver the fast and safest outcome (including, better reporting) over multi-networks. SD-WAN is best suited for it.
  • As time is moving ahead, cloud technology is also booming, and it is the future of enterprises. So, along with cloud, what businesses crave for is the focused approach that prevents the poor performance of cloud-based apps, data infringement, or hacking threats- all that adversely affect the business. SD-WAN is the key to these locks.


The network is the pillar of an enterprise over which data is transmitted. So, it should be safe and offers optimum performance, no matter it is within the premises or on the cloud. And, if we look into- SD-WAN vs VPN- then Software-Defined WAN is that substratum that helps pillar (network) to be safe and secure under each condition at minimal cost. If you are still not convinced, here is the definitive guide of SD-WAN for you.


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