If you’ve ever used Office 365, then you’ll be aware of how the Geo-DNS feature and protocol proxy can benefit users, when connecting to their mailboxes from different regions than where the tenant resides. I don’t want to rehash what’s already been written, so if you’re not familiar with Geo-DNS, I suggest perusing this blog post for more information on it.
O.k., so, what matters to this story is that my account in Outlook.com was once a [email protected] account that got split when Microsoft merged [email protected] into Office 365. I’ve lost the Office 365 account but the Live account stuck around – and I’m glad that it did because all of my purchases were associated with it.
So, that being said, the account (and, thus, the mailbox) has been around for a hot minute. I don’t know if this will work with new Outlook.com accounts but I can’t fathom any reason why it shouldn’t.
First, the problem.
The issue with Outlook.com is pretty straightforward. A DNS query from any server outside of North America will provide an group of IP addresses, like this:
:~$ dig a outlook.com ; <<>> DiG 9.11.3-1ubuntu1.3-Ubuntu <<>> a outlook.com ;; global options: +cmd ;; Got answer: ;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 1787 ;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 8, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 1 ;; OPT PSEUDOSECTION: ; EDNS: version: 0, flags:; udp: 65494 ;; QUESTION SECTION: ;outlook.com. IN A ;; ANSWER SECTION: outlook.com. 300 IN A 18.104.22.168 outlook.com. 300 IN A 22.214.171.124 outlook.com. 300 IN A 126.96.36.199 outlook.com. 300 IN A 188.8.131.52 outlook.com. 300 IN A 184.108.40.206 outlook.com. 300 IN A 220.127.116.11 outlook.com. 300 IN A 18.104.22.168 outlook.com. 300 IN A 22.214.171.124 ;; Query time: 218 msec ;; SERVER: [REDACTED]([REDACTED]) ;; WHEN: Thu Dec 27 18:15:17 CET 2018 ;; MSG SIZE rcvd: 168
If we trace the troute to the first IP address, we can see that we traverse from Stockholm to Amsterdam to London to New York City to Washington to Chicago to… (first two hops removed for privacy):
:~$ traceroute 126.96.36.199 --resolve-hostnames traceroute to 188.8.131.52 (184.108.40.206), 64 hops max 1 0.0.0.0 (_gateway) 87,450ms 58,492ms 55,662ms 2 0.0.0.0 (0.0.0.0) 54,839ms 64,758ms 59,640ms 3 220.127.116.11 (as8075-10g-sk1.sthix.net) 52,795ms 53,058ms 55,475ms 4 18.104.22.168 (ae1-0.sto-96cbe-1b.ntwk.msn.net) 53,841ms 53,710ms 50,792ms 5 22.214.171.124 (be-8-0.ibr01.ams.ntwk.msn.net) 190,862ms 188,583ms 290,228ms 6 126.96.36.199 (be-7-0.ibr01.amb.ntwk.msn.net) 186,894ms 189,178ms 364,440ms 7 188.8.131.52 (be-5-0.ibr01.lts.ntwk.msn.net) 184,531ms 188,188ms 322,957ms 8 184.108.40.206 (be-2-0.ibr01.lon30.ntwk.msn.net) 237,432ms 186,584ms 367,246ms 9 220.127.116.11 (be-11-0.ibr01.nyc30.ntwk.msn.net) 187,837ms 359,796ms 188,780ms 10 18.104.22.168 (be-7-0.ibr01.was02.ntwk.msn.net) 186,431ms 372,950ms 183,982ms 11 22.214.171.124 (be-3-0.ibr01.ch2.ntwk.msn.net) 185,136ms 372,724ms 185,883ms 12 126.96.36.199 (be-6-0.ibr01.cnr02.dsm05.ntwk.msn.net) 188,245ms 187,203ms 186,946ms 13 188.8.131.52 (ae121-0.icr03.dsm05.ntwk.msn.net) 187,622ms 187,722ms 188,690ms
All of these hops are wholly unnecessary. After all, if I look at a message header from a mail I received, I can see that my mailbox is in Helsinki (and, even though it’s an Outlook.com account, serviced in the same forests as Office 365):
This, of course, also meant that I was landing on a Cafe in North America, being protocol proxied from North America to Helsinki, and then the response would traverse back the reverse path to me. As you can tell from the latency, it wasn’t a very fast response.
What was the resolution?
Since I’m using EWS in Evolution on Ubuntu 180.04LTS, I simply changed the server name from “outlook.com” to “outlook.office365.com”. This means that I leverage Geo-DNS and this will land my requests on front-end server within Europe, which would then protocol-proxy the request to my mailbox hosted (currently) in Helsinki.
I can’t promise that this will work for you but it’s definitely worth a shot; especially, to avoid network degredation, by not having your traffic routed through North America.
It’s not much, I’m aware, but it’s a small piece of help that I hope might benefit someone, some day.