Internet-based VPN has been a staple on corporate Wide Area Networks (WANs) for years. It uses encryption methods like IPsec tunnels to establish a secure connection between multiple WAN sites and the public internet. When compared to MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching), its reliability and bandwidth costs were low. 

When it got introduced, SD-WAN brought a combination of agility and cost-efficiency. It is also cloud-friendly. This is something that both MPLS and VPN failed to offer. Its in-built security features and added reliability were an absolute game-changer.

With the arrival of SD-WAN, the battle between VPN vs. MPLS is long gone. But it doesn’t mean VPN technology has expired. Even with all their differences, SD-WAN and VPN still have their own use cases. 


The Benefits & Limitations Of SD-WAN & VPN Based On Their:

The only way to analyze two WAN connectivity solutions is by comparing their reliability, performance, cost, and configurations. Let us have a look at how SD-WAN and VPN compete with each other in these categories. 


  • Performance

The performance of an internet-based VPN depends on the public network that your business uses. The latency of VPNs could increase if you transverse long geographic distances. Needless to say that internet congestion could also impact performance periodically. 

SD-WAN can easily overcome geographical boundaries with no performance impact. It also optimizes performance through features like application-aware routing and dynamic path selection. 

These features would further ensure that applications like VoIP deliver the required performance. Since SD-WAN is cloud-based, long-distance traversing wouldn’t cause latency. 

  • Cost

The cost of a service is a major factor in determining the type of product that your business can afford. Both SD-WAN and VPN can help your business leverage public internet bandwidth at reasonable prices. 

For small deployments and simple WAN topologies, a VPN would suffice. If you’re only going to be accessing a limited number of sites, VPN is an optimal and cheap solution. 

This includes simple site-to-site connections where you can use commodity servers to cut down the cost. But the complexity and bottlenecks that come with VPNs are huge. This renders your upfront cost savings useless. 

  • Reliability

Almost any business would want their products to deliver reliable and predictable performances. But there is a general debate that both SD-WAN and VPN lack Service-Level Agreements with the public internet. 

This isn’t necessarily true. VPN, as we just saw, relies heavily on the public internet. But cloud-based SD-WANs on the other hand have connections with multiple Tier-1 providers across the globe that are SLA-backed. 

This means that SD-WAN would be able to deliver reliable and predictable levels of performance that exceed both VPN and MPLS.


  • Maintenance & Configuration

NAT-T, IPsec tunneling, and IKE (Internet Key Exchange) are some of the demanding manual work that you’ll have to handle while configuring your VPN. Needless to say that configuring them properly requires a very high level of expertise to do it securely. 

One must also be able to scale it up or down in the future. Eventually, as you add more and more sites to your WAN, it’s going to get difficult to handle them. It could also result in lags, latency, and disjointed WANs. 

But by employing a cloud-based SD-WAN you can reduce the latency by up to 45%. The time taken to deploy SD-WAN is also less when compared to VPN. In addition to this, you also get policy-based configurations that are automatic and scalable. 


Choose An MSP That Has Expertise In Both

Let’s face it. Not every business would have enough knowledge and expertise to choose technological products. Especially when it comes to choosing between VPN and SD-WAN which have their own pros and cons. 

Instead of having to make the choices yourself, you can work with a Managed Service Provider like CTS. MSPs like us are experts in what we do and we can analyze your business to choose the tools you require. 



In simple terms, if you own a small business that would only have to access a handful of sites, a VPN would suffice. However, SD-WAN wins the day if you prioritize operational agility, scalability, and performance.

If this spiked your curiosity and you’d like to know more about SD-WAN, try reading How Managed SD-WAN Services Can Increase The Agility Of Your Business?. Reach Out To Our Managed SD-WAN Experts who are always at your disposal.