Netcordia this week plans to unveil appliances to give network managers a clear picture of how the routers and switches on their net could be better utilized.The NetMRI appliances come in two flavors, one for smaller nets and one for enterprise-size businesses. Upon installation, the appliances auto-discover the network, begin collecting data and spot configuration and system-level errors. The company is targeting large enterprise firms with more than 30 routers and switches.While it could be argued the company competes with the likes of Packet Design, Route Dynamics or Ipsum Networks, Netcordia founder and CEO Terry Slattery says NetMRI performs analytics beyond specific routing protocols."NetMRI really helps automate the work of a consultant. It can help network managers determine how to better engineer their networks," Slattery says.NetMRI installs on a switch port or router interface and identifies network devices and the ports, or interfaces, being used to route traffic across the net. Network managers input the blocks of IP addresses for the appliance to monitor, and the appliance begins collecting data such as CPU utilization, routing table information, VLAN activities, MAC addresses and port connections. The appliances are packaged with software that in the latest release includes more than 70 best practices for Cisco nets.NetMRI is not used to monitor performance in real time, but rather to show network managers where and how they can better configure their network gear and make changes to optimize network performance. For example, the appliance could alert a network manager if the majority of traffic were being routed through the switch with the least processing power, and the appliance would reveal misconfigured switch ports and instruct users how to optimize their nets.Available by the end of this month, NetMRI Version 1.2 costs about $25,000 for 6,000 interfaces and $50,000 for 17,000 interfaces.