ExtremeVPN Logo

SDP vs VPN: Key Differences Explained

Last updated: May 25, 2024 1 min read
SDP vs VPN Key Differences Explained

You can never go wrong with using an SDP or VPN for your network security. Both are effective in protecting your IT infrastructure. However, deciding which one to select can be difficult. Continue reading to learn about their differences and which one benefits you more.


Data protection is necessary in a world where businesses deal with so much information. Two popular tools used for this purpose are SDPs and VPNs. Both can contribute to creating solid network security, but their approaches differ. While a VPN establishes a secure connection between a user and a server, an SDP lets the user view requested data after passing a verification process.

Learning about the difference between SDP and VPN can help you know which best suits your organization. This post highlights extensive information on these tools, from their definition and workflow to their benefits and drawbacks. Read on to begin your journey toward knowledge.

Defining a Software-defined Perimeter


A Software-Defined Perimeter, or SDP, is a network security solution that protects a business network and infrastructure, such as its routers and servers, from unauthorized access. SDPs possess the power of invisibility, in which once you implement it on a system, it hides everything in that system from outsiders.

Most organizations that use SDP rely on it for the following reasons:

  • Limiting third-party access: SDP is useful for organizations that hire third-party contractors, consultants, and developers. It enables them to restrict access to only the information needed for their job. As a result, the company can keep the remainder of its data private and only tell outsiders what they need to know.
  • Accelerating M&A integration: If a company uses traditional mergers and acquisitions, it can take years to reorganize its IT infrastructure. SDP shortens the time required for a successful M&A and allows the business to deal with converging networks more efficiently.
  • Maintaining data compliance: Data compliance is critical for every organization since it ensures the security of their data, and SDPs can help with this process. It specifies which devices have access to which data and for how long. This gives the company more control over its data and prevents it from being misused.
  • Creating a multi-cloud environment: SDPs help institutions hide their infrastructures, regardless of location. It guarantees data security even when users access their network remotely.

How Does an SDP Work?

SDP vs VPN Key Differences Explained

As its name implies, an SDP creates a defined perimeter that keeps a company’s infrastructure hidden from outsiders. It does this by allowing users to connect to a server only when authorized using a multi-factor authentication code that verifies their identity. Once a user is verified, SDP creates a single network connection connecting their device directly with the server.

A Typical SDP Workflow

An SDP architecture consists of an SDP host and SDP controller. SDP hosts are of two types:

  • An Initiating SDP host that is in charge of connecting a user device to the controller. It provides information on the device that is trying to access the network.
  • An Accepting SDP host that connects all verified devices to the server they want to access.

These elements work together in an SDP following this process:

  1. The Initiating host first gets an authentication token, which it sends to the SDP controller with the user login credentials.
  2. The SDP controller checks if the login credentials and token pass its verification system. It uses various identification systems, such as OpenID and geolocation, to confirm the authenticity of the user.
  3. Once the user’s identity has been approved, the SDP controller looks for the Accepting host to connect the device to its requested server.
  4. The Initiating host obtains the IP address of the Accepting host and creates a secure connection with it.

How Can You Access a SDP-protected Server?

Worldwide Server Network

Before you can access this server, you must pass through the following process:

  1. Confirm your identity: First, the system needs to know it’s really you. It does this through something like your single sign-on (SSO) or identity provider. You’ll likely need to provide your login details, like your username and password. Sometimes, it might even ask for a unique hardware token for added security.
  2. Verify your device: The system also looks at your device to ensure it’s safe to connect. It checks if your apps are up to date and scans for viruses or malware. You also won’t be able to connect if your device is on the system’s block list.
  3. Get permission: Before you can join the network, the system checks with the SDP controller. Once it gives a go-ahead, your device info goes to a gatekeeper called the SDP gateway. This gatekeeper has the authority to grant or refuse your access.
  4. Connect safely: If everything checks out, the SDP gateway creates a secure tunnel for you. Think of it like a VIP entrance to a party. It’s just for you and the server you want to access. Nobody else can sneak in. Now, you can freely access the resources you require.

Defining a Virtual Private Network (VPN)


A VPN is a service that acts as a middleman between the internet and a device, ensuring that your connection is private and safe from prying eyes. It creates a secure pathway for all online traffic and converts it to unreadable data so no one can access it. You can use this tool for both personal and business purposes, such as evading geo-restrictions and safeguarding an organization’s sensitive information.

How Does a VPN Work?

Connecting to a VPN is similar to wearing a mask before entering the virtual world. It reroutes your internet traffic and sends it through an encrypted tunnel while turning your data into unrecognizable bits. This hides your true identity, making it impossible for anyone to pry into your personal information, such as your location. It creates a secure, secret passage using advanced technologies like WireGuard, allowing users to access their personal or company data without disclosing anything to a third party.

SDP vs VPN: Benefits and Drawbacks


Let’s examine how these security solutions can benefit your digital life and the possible issues you may experience using them.

SDP Benefits

Alongside providing users with optimum network protection, SDP offers these benefits:

  1. Data encryption. An SDP encrypts all data transmitted in the connection between the hosts and controllers.
  2. Zero trust policy implementation. SDP rules ensure no user or device can be trusted to access a network unless the SDP controller approves it.
  3. Flexibility and scalability. When a network is SDP protected, joining new resources like a database, application, or server becomes easier, as you can add them to an accepting host.
  4. Minimized cyber-attack risks. An SDP reduces the chance of hackers and any potential threats from gaining access to any data in the protected network.
  5. Device support. SDP ensures a secure connection for any device by asking users for a form of identification, like a password or login details, before granting access.

SDP Drawbacks

Despite SDP benefits, this security solution also has its downsides:

  1. Controller dependency. During the workflow of an SDP, the SDP controllers are important to the system as they are the middleman between the initiating host and the accepting host. So, connecting to the network if they are offline will be impossible.
  2. Device type limitation. As much as SDP supports many devices, its support is limited to majorly modern devices. Connecting with an old router or a vendor-specific device can be troublesome.
  3. Configuration updates. All applications in the SDP-protected network have to be compatible with SDP. As time-consuming as this will be, this is an essential step because any mistake can make the system vulnerable to attacks.
  4. Network interruption during the installation. When trying to introduce SDP into an infrastructure, you will experience a network disruption as all the applications and devices included in the network will require reconfiguration.

VPN Benefits

VPN Illustration

VPNs are widely used for both personal and business purposes, and here are the reasons why:

  1. Private connection. Using a VPN guarantees your safety online with its state-of-the-art encryption package. It protects all your online traffic and data from intruders.
  2. Anonymous browsing. A VPN can give you a new online identity by changing your virtual address. By doing this, no snooper can know what you are doing online.
  3. Internet freedom. With a VPN, you can bypass restrictions and censorships placed on sites in your location by connecting to any server location.
  4. Cost-effective. VPN is a stress-free option as it doesn’t require much to maintain, no matter how long you’ve been using it. Even if you want to use a popular VPN service, you will only spend a little as you will find many budget-friendly options.

VPN Drawbacks

Here are a few downsides to a VPN:

  1. Slow speed. As VPN encrypts your online traffic, your internet speed may slow down due to the time it takes for this process to finish. However, if you use a reliable one with top-notch protocols, you may not experience this speed drop.
  2. Unrestricted network access. Once anyone connects to a network through a VPN, they can access every resource available without restrictions. You won’t be able to stop an external contractor from viewing critical data once they access the network.
  3. Unstable internet connection. At times, your network connection may drop while using a VPN. When this happens, your online traffic will no longer be protected during this period. That’s why using one with an internet kill switch is important to ensure your online protection even during network drops.

When selecting a VPN service, you should ensure it has robust security features, such as a kill switch, to ensure online privacy. An example of such a VPN service is ExtremeVPN. Our VPN offers everything you require to protect your network data.

What Does Mutual TLS (Transport Layer Security) Mean?

Mutual TLS is an authentication and encryption protocol that ensures that the parties at both ends of the network connection are who they claim to be before data sharing occurs. It verifies that the client and the server are legitimate through their private key. Also, using their TLS certificate, information can be obtained that can help prove the validity of the key.

How Does SDP Implement Zero Trust Security?

From the name Zero Trust, we can infer that no user or device can be trusted to access a network that uses this security. This security model requires a strict verification process for any user and device that wishes to access a resource anywhere around a network perimeter.

SDPs use this security method to verify all devices before they can connect to the network, which will be restricted to only the part they are authorized to see. With this method, no one, not even the CEO device, can connect to a resource without authorization.

How to Enhance Your Online Security

Stay Secure with the Best Encryption

Cybercriminals are working hard nowadays and don’t mind having sleepless nights if they want to steal data. With how prepared they are, you should also be ready to tackle them and take control of your internet life. Here’s how you can do that:

1. Get Educated

Using the internet without having an idea of the potential risks attached is like walking into a dark corner without any protection. For you to walk comfortably without fear in a dark corner, you have to be sure that no harm can come your way, and you can only do this by getting the correct information about the corner. That is how you should treat the internet.

Learning about every cybersecurity threat you may face online can help you discover measures that can help fight against them. Training your employees about these risks is not a bad idea if you are a company owner. At least, you will be sure your company’s data is not getting into the wrong hands.

2. Use a Strong Password

While opening an account on a platform, have you experienced typing in a password to create the account and receiving the message “password is not strong enough?” This is because using a simple password delivers you right into the hands of hackers. You will need a combination of symbols, numbers, and alphabets that no third party can manipulate. Note that you should also remember it too! You can also use a multi-factor authentication service to ensure double security.

3. Update Your Apps

There is a reason why apps get updated. Using an outdated app for your online activities exposes you to software vulnerabilities like malware. This can make your device a playground for hackers. Always be on the lookout for every update on your software and do what is needed.

4. Get a VPN

We can never overemphasize the importance of VPNs to your online security, especially if you frequently use public Wi-Fi. A VPN can help you boost your privacy and safety online by redirecting all your online traffic through a secure tunnel and changing your  IP address. You don’t have to start searching for a VPN service to use; we can recommend one here — ExtremeVPN. 

ExtremeVPN is a budget-friendly VPN service that protects up to 10 devices with one account simultaneously. We have a wide range of features, which include a kill switch, ultra-fast servers worldwide, and tunneling protocols that can provide you with a bullet-proof shield online.


SDP and VPN are powerful security solutions to protect your data regarding network security. Although both have where they fall short, their benefits surpass these drawbacks.

If you are choosing one to help enhance your organization’s security, review the pros and cons of each and decide on which one best suits you. However, if you need one for your personal online protection, a VPN service is a perfect choice.

Furthermore, a reliable VPN service like ExtremeVPN can guarantee that your online presence is kept anonymous and private from eavesdroppers.


Are SDPs and VPNs the same? Up
Although both tools provide security solutions, they operate differently. While a VPN creates a secure tunnel between a device and the internet for all traffic to pass through, an SDP uses user authentication and segmentation to prevent unauthorized users from accessing any data in a network.
Can SDP help with networking security? Up
SDPs contribute to network security by hiding all data and infrastructure from unauthorized users.
Which is better, between VPNs and SDPs? Up
We can’t decide which is better because both can considerably improve online security. The two tools take distinct tactics to protect company and personal data from cyber threats.

Knowledge is Power, ExtremeVPN is Freedom

Enhance your online privacy with unmatched security and confidentiality!

GET IT NOW 30 days money back guarantee

Share this article

About the Author

Olivia is a cybersecurity enthusiast and passionate writer eager to teach everyone how to stay safe ...
More from Olivia

Related Posts


No comments.

ExtremeVPN Watermakr Icon

Protect and enjoy your digital life with ExtremeVPN

  • Safe and seamless streaming
  • Privacy on Wi-Fi networks
  • No DNS leaks
  • One account, ten devices
  • 6,500+ servers in 78 countries
Get ExtremeVPN