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Our experience is that most performance failures are due to a lack of consideration of performance issues early in the development process, in the architectural phase. This paper discusses assessment of the performance characteristics of distributed software architectures using the Software Performance Engineering (SPE) approach. We describe the information required to perform such assessments, particularly the information about synchronization points and types of synchronization mechanisms, and the modeling approach. The case study demonstrates how to construct performance models for distributed systems and illustrates how simple models of software architectures are sufficient for early identification of performance problems.