The past few weeks I have been out of my home country (USA) and working on an international project. I find these more interesting than typical projects in the US because they represent an opportunity to explore new places and learn about new cultures. I arrived in this country at night and went directly to the hotel. In the morning when I opened up my web browser I was greeted with a clear indication that I was not in my home country.
I had an Ah-Ha moment this week when I was overseas and I opened up my web browser to see the following Google page. I guess I should have expected this even though my browser probably has some setting that defines by preferred language as English. I think it is cool that Google customizes its content for local languages and customs.
Then when I went to iGoogle I saw this page.
Try to guess where I have been this week.
We know that Google uses Citrix NetScaler 9800 server load balancing systems with built in DNS-based GSLB. Google must be performing whois lookups on the user's DNS resolver and is determining what region or country I am in and then answering back with the A-record of a web server cluster that is providing the localized content in the correct format and language that the browser correctly understands. This is very fascinating how this takes place in a manner of seconds.
I started to do some investigation about where the web server that I was connected to is located. I started that the logical first step and did an nslookup. From my new location I get returned a different set of DNS A records for www.google.com than when I am in my home town. This is what I got while traveling.
C:\Users\Scott>nslookup www.google.com Server: [192.168.1.35] Address: 192.168.1.35
Non-authoritative answer: Name: www.l.google.com Addresses: 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 Aliases: www.google.com
When I am in my home town this is what I typically see.
C:\Users\Scott>nslookup www.google.com Server: srvdns02.example.com Address: 10.238.41.51
Non-authoritative answer: Name: www.l.google.com Addresses: 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 Aliases: www.google.com
I tried another test using VisualRoute 2009. This is a useful tool when performing analysis across the Internet. VisualRoute is a useful utility that performs ping, traceroute, whois lookups, and provides the hop-by-hop timing information and shows a geographical world map. VisualRoute showed that I was actually connecting to a web server in Mountain View California.
While I really enjoyed my time abroad I must admit that it is nice to be back home. The next time you are in a different country look for signs like this that indicate that your web content is being customized for local languages and customs.