The authors describe the performability manager, a distributed system component that contributes to a more effective and efficient use of system components and prevents quality of service (QoS) degradation. The performability manager dynamically reconfigures distributed systems whenever needed, to recover from failures and to permit the system to evolve over time and include new functionality. Large systems require dynamic reconfiguration to support dynamic change without shutting down the complete system. A distributed system monitor is needed to verify QoS. Monitoring a distributed system is difficult because of synchronization problems and minor differences in clock speeds. The authors describe the functionality and the operation of the performability manager (both informally and formally). Throughout the paper they illustrate the approach by an example distributed application: an ANSAware-based number translation service (NTS), from the intelligent networks (IN) area.