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The authors discuss a novel direction for evaluating system dependability. The research efforts outlined are part of a special focus concerning the dependability of complex distributed systems at the Department of Computer Engineering of the Federal Armed Forces University in Munich, Germany. Our approach emphasizes the behavior of components after they have been embedded in a system. We use the notion of effective values for the analysis and estimation of key dependability parameters. The concept is targeted to unify performance characterization with the dependability. Besides analysis, we report on some simulation results, which were in favor of our assumptions.