An encrypted connection between two or more computers is called a virtual private network, commonly known as a VPN. These VPN connections are subjected to public networks, but exchange of data is private because of encryption. It becomes possible to share and securely access confidential data over public networks using VPNs. For example, corporate employees often use VPNs when they work from home or work remotely to access and share corporate files and applications securely.
Many of the VPNs use the IPsec protocol to run and manage these secure encrypted connections between two, or more than two, computers. IPsec is made up of two terms, IP and sec, where IP stands for Internet protocol and sec for secure. IPsec is a standard set of multiple protocols that are bound together for encryption of connections between multiple devices. These protocols are used together to send data securely over public networks. VPNs are set up using IPsec, which works to encrypt IP packets and authenticate the sending sources as well.
Just a few years ago, VPN was considered a very important component of network security. It ensures traffic encryption and extends the corporate network across the Internet through encryption of connections. Using IPsec VPNs, traffic remains secure while travelling because of end to end encryption between the device and the network. It makes it possible for employees working remotely outside of the office premises to connect to the network very securely using the IPsec protocols of the VPN. But there are serious challenges associated with it when we come to network performance. Without any iota of doubt, VPNs are best for traffic encryption and its prioritisation, and it works best for small businesses having a single IP backbone. But when it comes to big enterprises, having multiple branch offices located at different places, serious latency issues start occurring, interrupting voice and video transmissions. That is a major drawback of VPNs.
Here comes SD–WAN to the rescue. Its cost, quality of service (QoS) and safe cloud usage makes an attempt to rebrand the VPNs. It is often referred to as enterprise-grade advanced VPN, which makes it different from legacy VPNs. SD–WAN comes to assist big enterprises operating their businesses at multiple locations. These multiple branch locations access data from the cloud. Furthermore, remote network access, granular security and application awareness are other important factors that compel big enterprises to shift towards SD–WAN and away from regular VPNs. On a different note, when compared to basic Internet VPN, the local quality of service (QoS) of SD–WAN has more improved properties because of the technology and granular level of support. That is why working from home, online hotels and cafes have become possible and promising enough to deliver a quality service through SD–WAN.
As security becomes very significant when cloud technology comes into the picture, SD–WAN has enabled IT professionals to check and monitor traffic security and has given them accessibility to make the traffic secure based on traffic type and user profile. In simple terms, it has enabled enterprises to acquire robust security for easy and secure transmission of data. Here we can gain a deep insight into the key differences between SD–WAN and IPsec based VPNs, which have given rise to a shifting market trend from VPNs towards SD–WAN.
1. VPNs provide encryption and efficient traffic prioritisation. These IPsec protocols are best for small businesses with a single IP backbone. But in the case of multiple branch locations of an enterprise, there comes latency issues in the transmission of data with VPNs. SD–WAN solves this latency issue by ensuring the enhanced performance of the network.
2. VPN uses IP tunnels or VPN tunnels to connect individual private devices to a site, or simply a site to another site. These tunnels ensure the secure path for sending data on a private network without any outside unauthorised interruption. It provides security in two forms, i.e. a VPN device and a VPN firewall. It provides encoded data with security algorithms, but in comparison to SD–WAN, it has more failover time.
3. On the other hand, SD–WAN provides paths with optimal performance of the network at a relatively low cost with enhanced security, flexibility and reliability. Based on traffic type, network optimisation can be achieved through SD–WAN.
4. In comparison to VPN, SD–WAN provides a self-healing property of automatic repairing of any outages occurring across the cloud resources, branch offices or data centre networks. With the convergence of security and networking, it offers automatic alignment with any change in network topology.
5. SD–WAN has the potential to eliminate VPLS and MPLS network circuits with the empowerment of basic Internet VPNs. It is much more comprehensive when compared to VPN.
6. SD–WAN is also best suited to businesses due to its fast and safe outcomes on multi-networks. That is the major requirement of businesses.
7. There is no doubt that the future of enterprises exists in cloud technology, which is booming at a fast pace. It is essential for enterprises to ensure better performance of cloud-based applications, avoiding hacking threats and data infringements. These are all harmful factors that can affect any business. In this regard, SD–WAN provides an efficient solution for enterprises and businesses of all sizes, which VPN offers with a lot of compromises and big trade-offs.
It is very important to analyse your business requirements first before choosing a solution. After a comprehensive evaluation of your business requirements, it will be easy to choose from the available alternatives i.e. SD–WAN or IPsec VPNs. A comprehensive analysis of your business requirements might include some queries on your behalf. For example, is the primary requirement of your enterprise greater application performance? Is it stationed at a single location, or does it have multiple branch locations? Do your employees require remote access to the network, i.e. access from home or outside the office premises? Are you controlling your own WAN? By taking into account some of these questions, it becomes easy to evaluate the available solutions that best fit your business requirements.
Apart from this, an explicit comparison of SD–WAN and IPsec VPNs gives an insight into the fact that the most important pillar of an organisation is its network, over which data is communicated. It must provide secure and optimum network performance. SD–WAN fulfills both these purposes effectively and helps the network to be secure and perform efficiently under all circumstances at a minimum cost when compared to IPsec VPNs.
If you want would like to replace your existing IPSec VPN’s with SD-WAN then sign up for a free SD-WAN Proof-of-Concept to see the difference it could make to your network.