To use the internet and make secure connections while doing so, people can use a virtual private network (VPN) or a secure SD Wan. Each of these primarily has the objective of providing a safe method for employees or private citizens to either use the internet more anonymously or to encrypt the data traffic to protect communications. While VPNs are far better known, SD Wan is now becoming something that businesses are considering due to its advantages and distinctive differences to VPN technology and implementation. For this article, we briefly look at both to better appreciate the differences.
What is an SD-Wan?
SD-Wan, which is short for software-defined WAN, provides a network setup intended to provide improved connectivity for users of the network. The idea behind an SD-Wan is that data requests are tracked on a per applications basis and then routed accordingly to their priority. The advantage of this is that all the available bandwidth in an office environment isn’t used by a few active, large downloads or other data-intensive activities where everyone notices that the network is suddenly crawling along.
Priorities and separate policies may be configured for each application when they’re compatible with the SD-Wan. This avoids creating data bottlenecks through network congestion. Another version of an SD-Wan is a secure SD-Wan. This includes additional encryption to make it even safer than the standard version.
What is a VPN?
A VPN is a way to connect between two points on computers, servers, or networks. An encrypted tunnel is created between two points and once the connection is established, data can be transferred between the two. A VPN manages the internet connection and sends all internet traffic through the virtual private network. Using a VPN can allow data to be sent to a secondary location and it appears that the user is using the web from another location. Companies use VPNs for a variety of reasons including remote workers, off-site employees, and others who need to access the company’s network securely.
Are There Different Use Cases for Each?
When thinking about how your business can benefit from SD-WAN, there are various ways to do so. These include providing secure communication for remote workers or avoiding a sudden slowdown in data transfers by prioritizing network traffic. By splitting out data usage between separate applications, priority usage can be given to the most important apps while others can be data restricted to avoid eating too much bandwidth at a critical time.
VPNs are harder to control from this perspective. They’re mainly a single solution for encrypting internet connections to make them more secure. However, they cannot usually manage the data by priority like with an SD-Wan.
Is One Superior to the Other?
An SD-Wan is an excellent solution to better control network data usage, reroute traffic, and still do so securely. For granular control down to the application level, SD-Wan is the better option. VPNs are still useful; however, they encrypt and tunnel all the data together, making it difficult to prioritize effectively. As a result, bottlenecks can occur. VPNs overall are easier to configure though.
While some people will be unfamiliar with SD-Wan compared to VPNs, it’s worth becoming better acquainted. In the corporate world, the former is likely to overtake the latter in the coming years as more companies realize their potential.