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While the communication standard IEC 61850 is already established in the area of substation automation, its use to control and monitor distributed energy resources (DER) is still in the early stages. An open discussion on design and performance issues of IEC 61850 implementations could boost its use for DER. This paper presents the architectural design decisions made in an open implementation of the standard in Java. In addition several performance aspects of IEC 61850 MMS server implementations are analyzed. The overhead caused by the OSI layers in MMS communication is analyzed with respect to PDU size and CPU load. The open implementation is profiled in order to point out where optimization in IEC 61850 implementations are most useful. Finally the performance of this implementation is compared to that of a commercial stack written in the C language.