Packeteer is introducing a scaled-back version of its PacketShaper appliance for customers who want to monitor applications on their networks but don't want to spend the money for the full-blown software package that would let them prioritize traffic.CUPERTINO, CALIF. -\u00a0Packeteer\u00a0is introducing a scaled-back version of its\u00a0PacketShaper\u00a0appliance for customers who want to monitor applications on their networks but don't want to spend the money for the full-blown software package that would let them prioritize traffic.The appliance, called\u00a0PacketSeeker, is based on the same hardware as PacketShaper, but comes with PacketShaper's traffic-shaping software turned off. If users later decide they want to use the traffic-shaping capabilities, they can buy a software license and key to turn it on.PacketSeeker and PacketShaper devices are placed in customer networks in-line with traffic headed for WAN links. These connections generally have lower bandwidth than the LAN and therefore can suffer congestion. Traffic might experience delay and packet loss as it goes through this choke point.By using the monitoring and reporting capabilities of PacketSeeker, customers can discover what applications use the most bandwidth and adjust their use to keep the WAN connection open to the most important applications. By keeping bandwidth-hogging applications under control, users can help keep down the size and cost of WAN connections, Packeteer says.If customers want to use traffic shaping to control how much bandwidth individual applications are allowed to eat up, they can turn on that capability in the same box, Packeteer says."There's a lot of people who look at traffic shaping but don't want to pay that price," says Corey Ferrengul, an analyst with the Meta Group. He says that collecting data on how much bandwidth applications use can be valuable in other ways. A company could use the data to charge individual departments for the bandwidth they use, he says, or target unimportant WAN uses that are blocking important uses."You can see where applications are getting stepped on by employees going out to the Web," Ferrengul says.The monitoring capabilities also are a useful troubleshooting tool, says Jim Sadlier, the WAN administrator for an international biotech company based in northern California. When he gets complaints about application performance over the WAN, information about application traffic volumes is key. The company already has 32 PacketShapers in its network, but Sadlier says he would like to add PacketSeekers to other sites to help diagnose problems.The devices also would be a tool for WAN capacity planning. If Sadlier can show that a site's WAN link is maxed out 60% of the day, that is the proof needed to win authorization for a bigger connection, he says.PacketSeeker also can spot users who eat up bandwidth with unauthorized applications. "That in itself has been a lifesaver for tracking down the naughty users," he says.PacketSeeker will compete with network monitoring tools from NetScout Technologies and NetQoS, Ferrengul says. Some router vendors offer application monitoring as a feature on their gear, but that is not uniform. "You're at the whim of the device," he says.The PacketSeeker option is available on all five Packeteer hardware platforms, the 1500, 2500, 4500, 6500 and 8500. Prices for PacketSeeker versions range from $2,250 to $30,000. Upgrading to PacketShaper adds $1,000 to $19,000. Both options are available now.