At a time when secure remote connectivity to enterprise networks seems to be the key for granting business continuity to most organisations, many providers of either SD-WAN or VPN solutions or even both refer to these technologies as dichotomic by highlighting the respective benefits and limitations, of course to the advantage of the one they offer against the other. Does this make sense, or does it just generate more confusion for companies willing to flexibly protect the data flow between their employees and their corporate network?

Two complementary worlds

The increased awareness of cybersecurity topics on a global scale makes companies more attentive to the protection of their assets from cyberthreats. This is a task a mere network infrastructure, regardless of how modern and state-of-the-art it is, cannot cope with. On the other hand, VPN just provides secure access to the network by protecting the data flow between “nodes” from eavesdropping. It does nothing more than this and of course cannot cope with any typical routing, prioritization, or load balancing tasks accomplished by network solutions.

SD-WAN is primarily an evolution of networking driven by the new generation “Software as a Service” models and cloud-based infrastructures. VPN is a point-to-point traffic tunneling/encryption solution, applied to corporate networks to grant private access to the organisation’s resources available on the network. So why compare apples and oranges, or foster the idea of these two technologies being opponents? They are complementary! And offering them together is now more than ever a question of responsibility.

A secured SD-WAN as a Service solution

At nacXwan we firmly believe nowadays no complete network solution should be delivered without taking security into account. This is why we developed our nTS technology (nacXwan Tunneling System) and include this feature at no additional cost in our service. We aim at allowing Network Operators and MSPs to both simplify the migration to digital network infrastructures of their customers and to protect the access to these resources. We integrate also uCPEs delivering powerful web-filtering and firewalling features. This because VPN tunnels excellently encrypt data flows, but they do not prevent malware from being downloaded in the network via fake links or other threats if no additional security measure is put in place.

A question of scalability

Before stepping into groundless discussions about SD-WAN overruling VPN as a better means to protect corporate communications, vendors and service providers should better highlight the capability of SD-WAN infrastructures to rapidly scale and accommodate as many nodes as whichever situation requires, including VPN access to the clients’ resources. A peculiarity which proved essential in the last months more than ever.

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