Netify have released our 2024 SD-WAN comparison blog article

Can SD WAN replace Internet VPN?

SD WAN is a good option to replace a basic internet VPN service. In many ways, SD WAN is an evolution of the standard IPSec VPN service, which is still used today to meet specific or simple requirements. IPSec remains a popular encryption security option for site-to-site or user-to-user requirements where there is no breakout to the public internet. For example, when an IPSec VPN is configured as "VPN-only," all unauthenticated traffic is dropped, resulting in a secure tunnel between endpoints.

IPSec VPNs were widely adopted by enterprise businesses before the introduction of smartphones and public cloud applications. As a result, Enterprise VPN architecture requirements were much simpler, often resulting in a single breakout to the internet from a designated data center or branch office location.

However, in today's world, users require constant access to public cloud resources through phones, tablets, and laptops. This transition to a cloud-based world has resulted in increasingly sophisticated threats to data from hacking. SD WAN is designed to meet these demands head-on by implementing highly secure feature sets that are consistently updated via the cloud.

Here is a comparison table of Internet VPN vs SD WAN:

Internet VPNSD WAN
Basic site to site communication.Feature rich with dynamic tunnel setup and the ability to steer traffic over any Internet circuit.
Low cost and easy to implement from almost any device or application.The vendor or service provider market is competitive and can be difficult to understand the landscape.
Good for IOT where hardware simply needs to communicate with a server, i.e. to request more stock.SD WAN can be used across hardware, virtualised instances and applications with a fully featured Enterprise hardened configuration.
VPN only configuration.Where requirements involve both secure communications and access to the Internet, SD WAN with SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) and SSE (Security Service Edge) offers significant benefits.

Further reading:

A guide to SD WAN providers

VPN guide from the National Cyber Security Centre

Threat report from the National Cyber Security Centre

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