You're best off looking at the Servlet 2.3 specification but there's not too much in there regarding distributables. I picked out the following bits and pieces which may help: in a distributable: - Servlet context init parameters are local to the VM in which they are created. This prevents them from being a shared memory store in a distributed container. - Attribute changes to ServletContext and HttpSession may occur concurrently. The container is not required to synchronize the resulting notifications to attribute listener classes (across a distributable). - Distributed containers are not required to propogate either servlet context events or HttpSession events to other VMs. Listener class instances are scoped to one per deployment descriptor declaration per JVM. I picked these out from page 28 (SRV.3.4.1) and page 72 (SRV.10.6) of the Servlet spec 2.3.. Also see page 52 (SRV.7.7.2) for more detail about distributed environments.