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In this paper, we develop an end–to–end analysis of a distributed Video–on–Demand (VoD) system that includes an integrated model of the server and the network subsystems with analysis of its impact on client operations. The VoD system provides service to a heterogeneous client base at multiple playback rates. A class–based service model is developed where an incoming video request can specify a playback rate at which the data is consumed on the client. Using an analytical model, admission control conditions at the server and the network are derived for multi–rate service. We also develop client buffer requirements in presence of network delay bounds and delay jitter bounds using the same integrated framework of server and network subsystems. Results from an extensive simulation show that request handling policies based on limited redirection of blocked requests to other resources perform better than load sharing policies. The results also show that downgrading the service for blocked requests to a lower bitrate improves VoD system performance considerably. Combining the downgrade option with restrictions on access to high bitrate request classes is a powerful tool for manipulating an incoming request mix into a workload that the VoD system can handle.