When examining SD-WAN versus VPN, enterprises should consider the level of performance they require.If you’re going through a network infrastructure upgrade, you may be wondering how to adequately consider software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) and how it compares to a virtual private network (VPN). While SD-WAN is the newer technology and often discussed as an upgrade from a VPN, there are some points you should consider. Here’s your guide to a clear understanding of SD-WAN versus VPN.

The basics of using a VPN: The basic reasons for choosing a VPN are cost-effectiveness and their simplicity. They are also useful for dropping packets that don’t originate from authenticated endpoints. All traffic is encrypted at a high level, but the tradeoff is that a VPN often can be problematic when it comes to network performance.

VPNs prioritize traffic before it enters an encrypted tunnel, but once it has entered that tunnel, it can’t be prioritized further by the provider network. As a result, traffic is supported by the network at a reasonable performance level. This is a fine arrangement for small businesses using a single IP backbone, but if a company has multiple locations, there can be problems with latency on voice and video transmissions.

When evaluating SD-WAN versus VPN, it’s important to ask three key questions:

Is it necessary to guarantee application performance?
Is the client accessing cloud solutions or do they have a need for supporting remote, unsecured networks?
Is there a requirement to control their own WAN?

When to opt for SD-WAN: If you are using cloud applications or if you need remote access and granular security, SD-WAN might be a good option. Many SD-WAN solutions don’t have end-to-end Quality of Service (QoS) like a Layer 3 multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) VPN, however, it does allow for the ability to manage network conditions and prioritize traffic at the local level. The local QoS for SD-WAN is far superior to that of a VPN because it has a granular level of support and features like application acceleration.

For organizations using cloud solutions, SD-WAN offers improved security as well as application awareness. SD-WAN is better for supporting mobile employees that may be working from home, a hotel, or a coffee shop. SD-WAN operators can restrict traffic based on the traffic type or a user profile.

One of the key considerations when evaluating SD-WAN versus VPN is the level of network connectivity flexibility available with SD-WAN. From MPLS to public internet, SD-WAN can help clients optimize their networks based on the traffic type.

SD-WAN also offers a unique distinction from VPNs in that it is self-healing, particularly if you’re using a SimpleWAN device. The self-healing aspect of SD-WAN further supports a level of reliability unseen with VPNs.

To learn more about navigating SD-WAN versus VPN, contact us at SimpleWAN. We can assist you as you walk clients through key network infrastructure decisions.