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Operational requirements are qualities which influence a software system's entire development cycle. The investigation reported here concentrated on three of the most important operational requirements: reliability via fault tolerance, growth, and availability. Accommodation of these requirements is based on an approach to functional decomposition involving representation in terms of potentiafly independent processors, called virtual machines. Functional requirements may be accommodated through hierarchical decomposition of virtual machines, while performance requirements may be associated with individual virtual machines. Virtual machines may then be mapped to a representation of a confilguration of physical resources, so that performance requirements may be reconciled with available performance characteristics.