One of the major trends in the evolution of current corporate networking is an increasing need for high performance long distance communications. Provided as an alternative to leased lines networks, virtual private networks (VPNs) are gaining increasing acceptance among customers and network providers by providing corporate networking between geographically dispersed customer premises based on a shared public switched network infrastructure. As a contribution towards this evolution, the present thesis proposes a generic object-oriented architecture for open distributed VPN services integrating service and management issues all along the modeling process. The aim of this VPN architecture is not only to provide a descriptive model of VPNs but also to illustrate possible ways of operating on that model to solve VPN related service or management issues. The architecture proposed is generic in the sense that, firstly, it is network technology independent and, secondly, that it captures the fundamental characteristics common to all VPNs. This latter aspect is very important as, due to the lack of standardization in this area, current VPNs are more marketable products than well-defined telecommunications services. The notion of distribution is also very important as telecommunications systems in general, and VPNs in particular, are intrinsically distributed. Indeed, a VPN can be seen as a distributed application running on the multiple nodes of telecommunications networks. To effectively deal with this de facto distribution and to exploit at best the benefits it can provide the VPN service and management services have been conceived from the very beginning as distributed applications. For this purpose, and due to the lack of satisfactory existing solutions in this area, an object-oriented method for the specification and design of open distributed telecommunications and management services has been developed. The proposed method combines the ODP (Open Distributed Processing) concepts and stucturing rules with the systematic development process advocated by an object-oriented software engineering method called Fusion. This method provides an architectural framework and a seamless thread from problem definition to the realization of the distributed telecommunications system, based on hierarchically related abstraction levels. Mapping rules, guidelines and notations are proposed on how and when enterprise, information and computational models should be built, in particular based on models performed at a higher abstraction level. The method has then been applied to the specification of the generic VPN architecture itself. In the enterprise viewpoint the scope of the VPN service has been refined and limited to the provision, within the public domain boundary, of internetworking services between customer premises networks. The main actors involved in using, providing and managing the VPN service have been described as well as interactions between them. Based on their requirements, fundamental VPN characteristics have been identified, among which the notions of virtual resource and of closed user group are the most relevant. In the information viewpoint, a generic object-oriented network information model has been developed based on standard network resources. This model has been recursively applied to specify the object models pertaining to the different layers of the VPN architecture. Based on this architecture, a management service allowing customers to dynamically configure the logical connectivity of their VPN has been specified down to the network elements level. The realization of this functionality in terms of application components suitable for distribution and interactions between them has been the purpose of the computational viewpoint. Finally, the generic VPN architecture has been refined and applied to the particular context of ATM-based VPNs. In addition to describing how VPNs can be built on ATM networks this case study addresses a very important issue in such an environment, narnely bandwidth management. In this respect, an open distributed VPN bandwidth management service has been specified that allows VPN customers to dynamically modify the bandwidth allocated to the virtual path connections connecting the different sites of their organization. The final outcome of this specification process is the definition of a computational architecture for VPN bandwidth management extending from VPN level down to the physical network elements. This work has been carried out in the frame of the RACE (Research and Development in Advanced Communications Technologies in Europe) project R2041 PRISM (Pan-European Reference Configuration for IBC Services Management).