If you want to look at a cheap, solid, scalable way to do distributed computing, look no further than the combination of HTTP and asynchronous messaging using business level XML documents. The beauty of this, is that it is both Intranet and Internet class at the same time. Work with the web – not against it. Its resources + names for resources + an application protocol (not a transport protocol) that make it work.
+1. The Internet, not the Intranet, is the general case.