Whether a given simulation model of a computer network will benefit from parallelization is difficult to determine in advance, complicated by the fact that hardware properties of the simulation execution environment can substantially affect the execution time of a given simulation. We describe SONSim, an approach to predict the execution time based on a simulation of an envisioned distributed network simulation (second-order simulation). SONSim takes into account both network model characteristics and hardware properties of the simulation execution environment. To show that a SONSim prototype is able to predict distributed performance with acceptable accuracy we study three reference network simulation models differing fundamentally in topology and levels of model detail – simple topologies comprised of interconnected subnetworks, peer-to-peer networks and wireless networks. We evaluate the performance predictions for multiple configurations by comparing predictions for the three reference network models to execution time measurements of distributed simulations on physical hardware using both Ethernet and InfiniBand interconnects. ... mehrIn addition, utilizing the freedom to vary simulation hardware and model parameters in the second-order simulation, we demonstrate how SONSim can be used to identify general model characteristics that determine distributed simulation performance.