We currently have two NetApp machines in production, operating on the NetApp release 9.3P3 and 9.4P3 respectively. I'm aware that the latest release is 9.7, and was wondering if there was a pressing need to upgrade our operating system. We're happy where we are, but if there are any crucial features in the later versions, we would appreciate knowing them.
Ideally, we would like to potentially update to 9.6 or 9.5, rather than update to the latest version.
At this point yes. I would patch to 9.5 and go to 9.6 after that if you want. You would need to get to 9.5 on either system before you can go higher anyway. (Yes there is an option to go from 9.3 to 9.7, but it's a double upgrade)
I typically wait till P2 or P3 of an OS release before recommending it to my customers.
I would also look at the NetApp release notes and see what issues or enhancements were addressed. I would also look at the NetApp IMT and validate that the rest of your environment is support, as you may have to upgrade (firmware / patches) in the rest of your environment.
I agree that with you, don't upgrade just to be on the bleeding edge.