Networking around the World

Realization that the Internet world is not flat

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.

Google

Then when I went to iGoogle I saw this page.

iGoogle

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: 209.85.227.104 209.85.227.147 209.85.227.99 209.85.227.103 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: 74.125.157.105 74.125.157.99 74.125.157.106 74.125.157.147 74.125.157.103 74.125.157.104 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.

VisualRoute

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.

Scott

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