I started to reading Performance Evaluation for Parallel Systems: A Survey to understand basics of performance evaluation of parallel and distributed systems. Below are some important points from the paper’s introduction that can be valuable to anyone who works on performance evaluation.

Objective of performance evaluation

Selecting a proper architecture for an application is problem oriented. One architecture that suits one kind of problems may not at all suit another. After a particular architecture is chosen, the following questions may be asked. How will the system perform? What criteria should be used to evaluate the performance? What techniques can/should we use to get the performance values? To answer these questions is the objective of performance evaluation.

Definition

Performance evaluation can be defined as assigning quantitative values to the indices of the performance of the system under study.

What is performance

To answer this question is not easy, for performance involves many aspects.

some factors that must be considered: functionality, reliability, speed, and economicity.

Before considering about reliability, speed or economicity the system should be functional, and it should perform what its designer wants it to do. Then the system must be reliable. It is hard to achieve 100% reliability. So probability of errors should be studied. After we have a functional and reliable system, we can consider evaluating for speed and economicity (efficiency).

Performance evaluation

To evaluate the performance of a system or to compare two or more systems, one must first choose some criteria. These criteria are called metrics.

To know metrics, their relationships and their effects on performance parameters is the first step in performance studies.

selecting proper workload is almost equally important.

After choosing proper metrics and workload, one must consider what technique or techniques should be used.

there are three techniques commonly used in performance evaluation. They are measurement, simulation and analytical modelling.

at the early design stage when the system has not yet been constructed, measurement is obviously impossible, instead, a simple analytical model is practical. As the design process goes on, more and more details about the system are obtained. At this stage, simulation or more sophisticated analytical modelling techniques could be used. Finally, when the system design has been completed and a real system constructed, measuring becomes possible.

The paper is quite old. But I think this paper discuss fundamental stuff everyone should know about evaluating the performance of parallel systems.