Consumers evaluating SD-WAN shouldn’t think of it as a WAN optimization replacement, at least not exactly. These are different technologies, although it might be fair to think of SD-WAN as the successor to WAN optimization. SD-WAN and WAN optimization are compatible technologies, but not interdependent technologies.
My interpretation of the SD-WAN value prop can be boiled down to cost savings, simplified operations, and improved application performance over inconsistently performing WAN links. Here’s the conundrum. An engineer might instinctively recoil at this sort of value proposition.