I want to use the CCNA to get a entry level job and to save up money to go back to school. I was looking for something that would make me more appealing to employers.
R & S looks to be very solid so that is what I was focusing on.
Well the issue is that it's hard to find a good legit source of images. VIRL seems expensive but I bet one image would somehow be 1000 dollars.
Also, I don't know that you can buy a support contract on any item that GNS3 can run, especially without having bought that item first. And you have to buy it from a var, so even if you could purchase support on a 3745 still (which you can't), you'd need to buy it direct from Cisco's partners (which you can't) in order to get support on it.
Take a look at the reply I sent to Xipher regarding LSA's from OSPFv3 IPv4 address family and the Link LSA. I took a look at the ipv4-unicast database on the router that is doing OSPFv3 and the ipv4-unicast realm and it shows the IPv4 address the link would use to peer with my OSPFv2 router at address 10.0.0.6/30:
root@jR1# run show ospf3 database link realm ipv4-unicast extensive OSPF3 Link-Local database, interface ge-0/0/2.0 Area 0.0.0.0 Type ID Adv Rtr Seq Age Cksum Len Link *0.0.0.1 172.16.0.1 0x80000003 1122 0x226e 52 10.0.0.5 Options 0x132, Priority 128 Prefix-count 1 Prefix 10.0.0.4/30 Prefix-options 0x0 Gen timer 00:31:18 Aging timer 00:41:18 Installed 00:18:42 ago, expires in 00:41:18 Last changed 01:09:22 ago, Change count: 1, Ours
...[heard] from [verified] sources that SD-wan is going to replace [Cisco] routers...
Cisco devices are used by almost every industry at almost every level. I have no idea what "verified source" would be able to speak for all of them--especially predictively with accuracy--but I'm willing to bet a lot more than every cent of my current and future net worth that you haven't
actually spoken to one spoken to an actual verified source.
...since they are [a] cheaper alternative...
There aren't many more expensive Cisco alternatives now, why would yet another cheaper alternative change anything?
...we have to start learning [Python] programming to get ahead of the curve.
Although this is technically correct, it's kind of like saying that water is wet. Yes, in order to get "ahead of the curve" or to distinguish yourself from your peers, you will need to gain some unique knowledge or experience that makes you a more valuable asset. Knowing how to write Python code is definitely one of the more cost-effective ways of doing this. However, there will be plenty of CCNA-Level positions that don't require Python experience for quite some time.
Getting scared about SD-WAN is a little like getting scared about L3 switching--the ability to turn on a routing protocol to handle the connections between your switches does not make STP knowledge worthless. Automation and centralized management is definitely the direction the industry is moving, but that won't mean that you still need solid fundamentals. This is true of almost every industry at every point in time. While it may mean that some positions can now be filled with less skilled applicants, it also means that many new positions will require more skilled applicants when those other positions cause problems and can't fix them.
I would bet that at least 80% of the reason a CCNA certification is required is due to the fundamental networking knowledge it implies rather than the actual ability to configure a router from the CLI; no matter how the landscape changes in the next decade, this is unlikely to change. New technologies, like Automation, will continue to be added to the networking pool of knowledge and will filter down from experimental designs to service providers, to enterprises, to SOHO installations, to the home network; just as consumer routers now are capable of IGP protocols and BGP has made large inroads into the enterprise arena. Anyone who tells you they can predict what the networking world will look like in ten, or even five, years with any precision is trying to sell you something. Just look at the networks from ten years ago compared to today.
TL;DR, yes, as a member of the networking industry, you might, as a consequence of advancing technology, need to learn something new at some point. No, unless you are capable of only the most limited work with little or no added value, your employment, on the whole, is probably not threatened.
Edit: inadvertent hostility
Thanks for your comment. I haven't personally used any Extreme gear which is why I'm hoping others that have are around to give their opinion. Extreme's market is switching. I wouldn't dispute they make good switches. If you're good at switching though it doesn't mean you are also good at all Layer 3 scenarios. There are a lot of switches out there that can do general Layer 3 just fine but aren't built to support full BGP tables (512k+ routes).