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Channel 9 has gone global!

Description

Before we launched the most recent version of Channel 9 we did a lot of work to make sure site performance was acceptable for our users. This involves data collection to try to determine what aspects of the site are slow, and then work to make it all better. At some point though, we run into problems that just can’t be solved.

One of those issues occurs naturally when you have a web site being served from a single location, in our case the United States, to people located all around the world. For some folks the site will be slower than for others, and it seems like there is very little that could be done about this problem. We could move our site hosting to a new location, but that would just move the problem… now different people would have a good connection and others would have a poor one.

Turns out, if you are hosted in Azure, there is a better solution; multiple web servers located in different geographic regions around the world. This is a concept that is used by many large web sites already, but it requires specialized DNS services and (until now) wasn’t something that a ‘regular’ site could take advantage of. Now, using the Windows Azure Traffic Manager (WATM), it is possible to add this functionality to any Windows Azure hosted site by:

  • Creating multiple instances of your site (placed in different geographic regions),
  • Creating a ‘performance’ based traffic manager policy,
  • Adding all of your production instances into this policy, and
  • Modifying the DNS entry of your site (in our case the entry for channel9.msdn.com) to point at the special DNS name associated with your new WATM policy.

A ‘performance’ based policy, like we are using, sends traffic to the fastest performing active instance in the policy, based on network performance. This is not a real time indicator, but instead is based on aggregate performance data, and so the policy will generally always send a given user to the same location.

You can start out with only a single production instance in the policy (which wouldn’t actually do anything at this point, since all the traffic would be going to that single instance) and then add additional production instances around the world as you wish. In our case we started with three instances:

  • Our original production site in the North Central US,
  • A new site in East Asia, and
  • A new site in Northern Europe

While the exact location of these servers isn’t something that is publically discussed, they correspond to three of the six Windows Azure data centers as shown in this picture.

Windows Azure Data Centers

Recently you may have noticed a new icon along the top of the site

image

Hovering over this icon will show you the data center you are currently hitting. Hopefully this will be the best data center for you, but if it isn’t there are a few possibilities. One is that the data center you are hitting is truly the fastest option for you (sometimes network performance does not correspond to the real world distances between you and a data center), and the other is that you seem to be coming from a different location than you really should be. One issue to be aware of is that some large shared DNS services can cause this issue, because they can make it seem like you are physically located wherever their DNS servers are sitting… which could be quite far from your actual location. This article discusses the issue with services such as Google’s DNS service and OpenDNS briefly for those of you that are interested.

For more information on the Windows Azure Traffic Manager, check out this episode of Cloud Cover!

The Discussion

  • User profile image
    N2Cheval

    In Australia here and hitting the "North Central US" data center. Hope that's because I'm up earlier than the other sleepy heads and getting all the bandwidth...

  • User profile image
    golnazal

    Very cool!! I am pro anything that will make things run faster

  • User profile image
    Duncanma

    @N2Cheval: it depends... your connection to the US could be faster than your connection to our data center in Asia ... or your ISP could be doing routing such that it seems like your connection is faster to the US... or your DNS provider could be telling us that they are in the US... or...

     

  • User profile image
    draza

    Interesting, I'm in the south of France and I'm hitting your "Noth Central US" server.

    While it's possible, I find it hard to believe that my connection is faster, the latency between Europe in general and US is on the order of ~150ms while reaching sites in Europe usually takes on the order of ~40ms.

    Just letting you know that you might want to revise your algorithm Smiley

  • User profile image
    DarekW

    Sitting behind my desk here in the Netherlands ... connected to Nothern Europe as should be.

    ping channel9.msdn.com

    Pinging ch9northerneurope.cloudapp.net [94.245.105.46] with 32 bytes of data:

    Request timed out.

    Request timed out.

  • User profile image
    androidi

    It says I'm using the physically nearest center however the site still takes its time to load. I suspect it has to do with me using Live to authenticate here.

  • User profile image
    Duncanma

    @draza: Can you tell me the DNS server(s) you are using?

  • User profile image
    draza

    @Duncanma

    From computer1, I've used a national ISP's DNS (ISP is called Free).

    I'm on a computer2 now using a different (unknown) provider (still in France) and now I'm hitting the Nothern Europe server.

    So it might well be the DNS.

  • User profile image
    Andrew Murphy

    North US here too (i'm in UK)

    Google DNS servers?

  • User profile image
    Duncanma

    if you jump to a command line and do nslookup it will show you the IP address of the DNS server you are hitting, and if you then type channel9.msdn.com it should show what it is resolving to... the IP address of the DNS server might help us figure out why you are getting that specific result

  • User profile image
    Kevin Daly

    I'm in New Zealand and also hitting "North Central US" - my ISP is also our major telecom provider so they shouldn't be doing anything stupid...on the other hand, they probably are.

  • User profile image
    Duncanma

    @Kevin Daly: Hey Kevin, the IP address/name of your DNS server would be handy in trying to figure this out... thanks

    If you'd like a quick way to get this, going to a command line and typing nslookup should spit out the name and IP address of your DNS server

     

  • User profile image
    Morne​Wolfaardt

    I am located in South Africa, and would like to know if the download speeds will also increase ? The site still shows that I am located in the US ;(

  • User profile image
    Duncanma

    @MorneWolfaardt: I'm not sure which node you *should* be reaching from South Africa, but if you could provide the IP address/name of your DNS server that would help us in determining why you are being routed the way you are. Also a traceroute to video.ch9.ms and media.ch9.ms would be useful. If possible trying out a very recent video and seeing what type of download speed you get would also help.

  • User profile image
    Morne​Wolfaardt

    @Duncanma: DNS : 196.28.75.200  and 196.28.182.10

    the traceroute for video.ch9.ms

    Tracing route to a1834.g.akamai.net [92.122.126.242] over a maximum of 30 hops:

    1. 1 ms    <1 ms    <1 ms  192.168.0.1  
    2. 18 ms    18 ms    13 ms  41-132-18-1.dsl.mweb.co.za [41.132.18.1]  
    3. 16 ms    66 ms   106 ms  tengig-0-0-0-110.vic-ipc-1.mweb.co.za [196.22.16 9.170]  
    4. 115 ms   107 ms    32 ms  vl-92.vic-hscore-1.mweb.co.za [196.22.189.2]  
    5. 180 ms   177 ms   238 ms  TenGigE0-0-0-0.11.vic-up-1.mweb.co.za [196.22.16 9.225]  
    6. 278 ms   298 ms   277 ms  tengige0-3-1-0.mid-up-1.mweb.co.za [196.22.169.2 10]  
    7. 609 ms   546 ms   596 ms  pos-1-2-0.lon-up-1.mweb.co.za [196.22.163.230]  
    8. 310 ms   347 ms   388 ms  195.66.226.168  
    9. 504 ms   469 ms   446 ms  a92-122-126-242.deploy.akamaitechnologies.com [9 2.122.126.242]

    Trace complete.

  • User profile image
    angelaweste​ll

    @draza:that's cool I'm from the UK. This really is amazing stuff. I'm totally lovin' it ! I'm on an OS system it is an absolute revelation; a real touch of inspiring innovation. Microsoft in my eyes is a real opportunity of exploration... long may it continue.... Big Smile

  • User profile image
    Christophe

    Another Brit here, I'm properly blown away by this stuff, keep it up.

  • User profile image
    kevin7911

    East Asia is also here. I am in Japan. If that will speed my download?

  • User profile image
    S Bush

    Wow! It's a great new. I'm in Hongkong.

  • User profile image
    FSuarez

    I'm feeling faster.

  • User profile image
    Bis32

    Fast in US.

  • User profile image
    EdgarS

    Good news, You guys going worldwide now.

  • User profile image
    nike shox

    East Asia is also here. I am in Japan. If that will speed my download?
    xc

  • User profile image
    gerd1

    You are in Japan? Where in Japan?

     

    Greetz gerd.

  • User profile image
    Manuel

    Never been slow...

  • User profile image
    ginno

    alguien puede enseñarme programación me gustaría aprender y ser parte de microsoft.

  • User profile image
    WalterSp

    Also a traceroute to video.ch9.ms and media.ch9.ms would be useful. If possible trying out a very recent video and seeing what type of download speed you get would also help.

  • User profile image
    Defrags

    Like wise, maybe its a new day for all our guy's

  • User profile image
    MrkMnl

    Download speed still terrible here in Perth, Western Austrlia. Downloading without stream always slows to 50Kbs after the first minute. Showing up as North Central US,

    My details:

    IP: 110.175.143.157

    DNS: 203.12.160.35 

    tracert video.ch9.ms:

    Tracing route to a1834.g.akamai.net [80.239.148.177]
    over a maximum of 30 hops:
    
      1    <1 ms    <1 ms     1 ms  10.0.0.1 
      2     1 ms     1 ms     2 ms  192-168-1-1.tpgi.com.au [192.168.1.1] 
      3    22 ms    22 ms    23 ms  10.20.21.95 
      4    21 ms    21 ms    22 ms  per-pow-stg-csw2-po-2.tpgi.com.au [202.7.175.109] 
      5    23 ms    22 ms    22 ms  per-pow-stg-crt1-po-2.tpgi.com.au [202.7.190.101] 
      6    73 ms    74 ms    74 ms  syd-sot-ken-crt1-ge-0-1-5.tpgi.com.au [202.7.171.101] 
      7   218 ms   214 ms   251 ms  ge5-0-5d0.cir1.seattle7-wa.us.xo.net [216.156.100.37] 
      8   218 ms   217 ms   218 ms  sea-b1-link.telia.net [80.239.195.33] 
      9   250 ms   247 ms   247 ms  den-b1-link.telia.net [213.155.134.78] 
    10   273 ms   277 ms   278 ms  chi-bb1-link.telia.net [213.155.133.172] 
    11   334 ms   290 ms   298 ms  nyk-bb2-link.telia.net [80.91.249.111] 
    12   367 ms   365 ms   364 ms  ldn-bb2-link.telia.net [213.155.135.66] 
    13   368 ms   368 ms   368 ms  adm-bb2-link.telia.net [80.91.253.208] 
    14   370 ms   369 ms   407 ms  adm-b5-link.telia.net [80.91.246.101] 
    15   373 ms   373 ms   375 ms  80-239-148-177.customer.teliacarrier.com [80.239.148.177] 
    
    Trace complete.
     

     

  • User profile image
    Donatella Baldi

    Microsoft is the best!

  • User profile image
    Defrags

    Good its world wide, !!!!

  • User profile image
    hendr

    Yes, Donatella. Microsoft, is the best. I like microsoft too.

     

    Gretz.

  • User profile image
    AdiTao

    So folks, any updates on this one?

  • User profile image
    Restposten

    Microsoft is very reliable for me - the important thing is that the technology evolves

  • User profile image
    delaysen

    Yes, and technology is definitely evolving at Microsoft, they are much better than their image.

  • User profile image
    farzaneh

    very good&I'm for asia-tanx for you-

  • User profile image
    farzaneh

    very good&I'm for asia-tanx for you-

  • User profile image
    maasal

    very naice!

  • User profile image
    ali

    think for help me

  • User profile image
    Matt

    Great News

  • User profile image
    blu3

    I've checked some IPs with command line "tracert" and i'm surprised how fast the microsoft network is. Very good job Microsoft Wink

  • User profile image
    Fugen

    Microsoft is the best!

  • User profile image
    Diadeveloph​ak

    intentando de buscar el servidor mas rapido

  • User profile image
    Smartmil8

    Congratulations Brothers.

  • User profile image
    Sikuso

    Well done, the connection is really fast from Europe.

    Microsoft Network is one of the fastest, thanks for this.

  • User profile image
    ayhankara

    I'm from turkiye.

    The connection is really fast from TURKİYE.

    Microsoft Network is one of the fastest, thanks for this.

  • User profile image
    Charly9

    Jan 24, 2012 at 10:19 AM, angelaweste​ll wrote

    .@draza:that's cool I'm from the UK. This really is amazing stuff. I'm totally lovin' it ! I'm on an OS system it is an absolute revelation; a real touch of inspiring innovation. Microsoft in my eyes is a real opportunity of exploration... long may it continue.... Big Smile

    Nice thanks ^^ 

     

  • User profile image
    JeremyGrant

    Good news, thanks!

  • User profile image
    Ploufside

    Looks faster and more stable, Great job !

    , angelaweste​ll wrote

    .@draza:that's cool I'm from the UK. This really is amazing stuff. I'm totally lovin' it ! I'm on an OS system it is an absolute revelation; a real touch of inspiring innovation. Microsoft in my eyes is a real opportunity of exploration... long may it continue.... Big Smile

    Yep works fine with iOS !

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