A node, within a networked computer system, is capable of supporting communications with other nodes relating to operating multiple application instances in a master-slave configuration. Each node periodically generates and sends a Heartbeat message that indicates the operational status and configuration information for one or more application instances being managed by the node. When a node receives a Heartbeat message from a remote node, it determines whether new configuration information should be obtained for each of the application instances the node is managing, and establishes a connection with a remote node that can access the new configuration information. The connection is an HTTP connection, in one embodiment. The node then requests and receives that new configuration information from the remote node. In one embodiment, the new configuration information is received in an XML format.