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SDP vs VPN: What & Why They Are Different


The combination of working remotely and storing data in the cloud creates significant challenges for security administrators. Leaks of sensitive information provide the greatest risk, followed by malicious software infections.

The question then becomes how to accomplish secure remote working while minimizing the risks involved. A virtual private network is a way to go if you want to increase your privacy and safety while browsing the web.

However, you might have also encountered the terms Software-defined perimeter or SPD. If you do not know the differences between the two (VPN and SDP), then this article is for you.

What is SDP or software-defined perimeter?

When a business employs an SDP, its servers and other infrastructure are effectively hidden from view from the outside world but remain accessible to authorized individuals.

It is because the goal of a software-defined perimeter (SDP) is to conceal on-premises or cloud-hosted infrastructure (servers, routers, etc.) from external parties and attackers. The SDP method intends to implement a software-based network perimeter as opposed to a hardware-based one.

Elements included in SDP

Software-defined perimeter (SDP) solutions rely on encryption running on computers to keep networks safe. Existing assets like customer databases, accounting software, communication apps, and more can be used in tandem with this program. Though implementations may vary, SDPs typically comprise the following components:


Controllers manage the system’s access configuration and mediate interactions among users, authentication providers, and protected resources. These external check devices to make sure they are compatible with the network.


Clients or users are entities that attempt to gain access to network gateways remotely. They initiate a secure network connection by requesting entry and authenticating themselves with controllers, thereby establishing a VPN-style tunnel to gateways.


Including, but not limited to, servers, data centers, and other Cloud resources that must be guarded against access by unauthorized individuals. The “need to know” principle can be applied to data access by limiting client access to certain resources in SDP deployments.

Authentication providers

In the case of Multi-Factor Authentication, user authentication data should be supplied. They will typically be a third party that communicates with the SDP controller and controls which users are allowed to utilize which gateways.

Because of the encryption used, all communications within this system are hidden from view and nearly hard to intercept. The network-neutral program is flexible enough to work in a wide range of environments. It has many advantages over older technologies like traditional VPNs and can scale up quickly and easily.

What is VPN or Virtual Private Network?

The term “virtual private network” (VPN) describes a method of establishing an encrypted connection across a public network. VPNs verify the identities of remote users and then create an encrypted tunnel to the internal network. You monitor network activities and get access to protected resources while connected to a VPN.

How does it work?

It hides the user’s true identity and gives them a new one on the internet. Assuming the VPN employs rock-solid encrypted connections, this effectively hides their true location, the sort of device they’re using, and the contents of their data from prying eyes.

For instance, if you connect to a VPN server to surf the net, your ISP and other third parties won’t be able to track the sites you visit or the data you send and receive. What happens is it encrypts all of your data transfers and conceals your IP address. Also, hackers won’t be able to access your data.

How to use VPN

To access VPN servers, customers often make use of their home or office routers. Next, the VPN server assigns them a new, concealed IP address and sets up an encrypted connection, or “tunnel.” With this, the user’s information is safely sent to its destination.

Issues with VPN

When IP addresses are added to blocklists, users may experience problems connecting to websites and other online services that use this sort of encryption. The use of a virtual private network (VPN) has benefits, but there are also negatives to consider, such as the possibility of a slowdown and possible privacy concerns.


When it comes to secure communication, SDP and VPNs are two excellent choices, but they each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of their differences:

Pros of using SPD

The following advantages are included with SDP in addition to a very high level of network security,

Widespread device compatibility

SDP protects connections for any gadget that requires credentials in the form of a set of data (not just a password and login). This compatibility includes IoT or the Internet of Things.

Device/user is only trusted upon SPD controller identification

There will be absolutely no room for trust. SDP relies on a “never trust, always verify” philosophy, which means that a device or user is only considered reliable once it has been verified by an SDP controller.

It’s adaptable and scalable

When compared to traditional models, where new resources necessitate adding the resource to all cybersecurity solutions in use, adding a new resource (application, server, or database) within an SDP is simpler because it only requires adding the resource to an existing Accepting Host.

Pros of using a VPN

VPN’s top-tier encryption techniques translate to increased online safety for users. All of your data transmissions are encrypted, and your online activity is hidden from watchful eyes. Here are other benefits of using a VPN

You no longer have geographical limits

You can use public Wi-Fi without worrying about being spied on. You can also gain access to regionally restricted content or conduct business from anywhere in the world.

You gain security by being anonymous

A virtual private network (VPN) creates a new IP address for you. With this, nobody will know what you are doing on the web.

Minimal upkeep required

Even after years of use, a VPN’s low initial cost and low ongoing maintenance requirements make it a viable alternative. The cost of using a quality VPN client is not necessarily high. Fortunately, there are lots of choices available at moderate costs.

Why SDP is better than VPN

SDP has more advantages compared to VPN. Some of these advantages are the area of:

Added security

While VPNs provide each connected user access to the entire network, SDPs give each user their own private network connection, making them more secure. Users are restricted to the resources of the company to which they have been granted access.

Each SPD user has their own network connection rather than all users having to connect to the same client in order to access the same shared resources. To some extent, it’s as if everyone has their own VPN at their disposal (VPN).

In addition, SDPs authenticate both devices and users before granting them network access, making it much more difficult for an attacker to obtain access to the system using data theft.

Easy to manage

For internal users who need multiple levels of access, SDPs may be easier to maintain than VPNs. When multiple types of network access need to be managed, the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) requires a large number of VPN clients to be set up.

Safe network access

The model used by SDP systems is unique. Once connected to a VPN, users are usually free to travel wherever they like. The network’s exterior is protected, but internal activity is not. Think of it as a “guard” that stands at the entrance to the castle in a software-defined perimeter.

That security officer prevents them from entering restricted areas and, if necessary, keeps them out entirely. However, once you’re inside, you now have freedom.

Better speed

You are aware that latency and performance problems are inevitable when working with a VPN, and there are a number of causes for this.

Server distance

If the VPN server is located far from where you are, your connection speed will be low.

VPN’s extensive encryption

Because of the extensive encryption used during a VPN connection, data transfer rates are typically low.

Bandwidth splitting

If the server is at full capacity, then the available bandwidth will be split among all users, resulting in a slower connection for you.

For SDP, instead of being routed through a central location like a VPN would, customers are connected with the service edge closest to them, reducing latency and preserving their sense of locality. Since SDP doesn’t use appliances, it isn’t constrained by the same physical infrastructure restrictions. It can expand or contract to meet the needs of the business without compromising service quality.

Drawbacks of a traditional VPN compared to an SDP

One major problem of VPN solutions is that authorized users have nearly unrestricted network access unless strong firewall and access control policies are in place. If, however, this user is a hacker with authentic credentials, the hacker gains unfettered access to the internal network and can freely move laterally and seek extremely sensitive targets.

Each session in SDP requires authentication from both the user and the system before a connection is made. Here are some advantages of SDP compared to a traditional VPN.

  • Lesser attack surface due to no full access to a network
  • Protection from DDoS attacks due to IP address concealment
  • Improved customer experience

For the sake of convenience and scalability, SDPs combine the advantages of point-to-site, site-to-site, and cloud-to-site VPNs. Technology has advanced to the point where it can keep up with the distributed nature of modern business networks.

Frequently asked questions

In what ways is SDP inferior to a conventional VPN?

Traditional VPNs are still in use because of the universal protocol tunneling they provide. Although SDP solutions support a wide variety of protocols, some may be incompatible with P2P protocols, VoIP, SIP, or Signaling System 7. (SS7). Compatibility for these protocols is likely to increase as SDP develops further.

What are the differences between VPN and SDP technologies?

SDP enables secure connections between approved users and authorized apps rather than the network, whereas VPNs are IP and network focused and connect devices to networks. 

Instead of accepting connections from the device and the network, SDP solutions create connections from the inside out between the user and the application. This is to prevent application IPs from being visible to the public internet and to separate application access from the network.

With this, users get a better experience than they would with a VPN, thanks to the reduced attack surface that results from not granting them network access. Hence, their main difference is in the area of connectivity.


It’s important to note that SDP and VPN are two separate approaches to protecting data while browsing the web. Both VPN and SDP need to develop in tandem to improve the user experience and maximize the potential of the distributed workforce.

Since DPs are still relatively new, they have not had the same level of enterprise success as VPNs. Regardless, they’re making strides in the industry. The best way to improve your company’s security is to consider both options and make an informed decision based on your unique circumstances.