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I'm a web developer and I recently landed a gig to develop the US / international version of a site for a company that's big in Europe but hasn't done much expansion into the US yet. They've got an existing site at company.com, which should remain visible to European customers after the new site goes up, and an existing (not great) site at company.us, which I'm going to be redeveloping (the .us site will be taken down when my version goes up--keep reading for details). My solution needs to take into account the fact that there are going to be new, localized versions of the site in the fairly near future, so the framework I'm writing needs to be able to handle localizations fairly easily (dynamically load language packs, etc).

The tricky thing is the European branch of the company manages the .com site hosting (IIS-based) and the DNS, while I'll be managing the US hosting (and future localizations), which will likely be apache-based. I've never been a big fan of the ".us" TLD--I think most US users are accustomed to visiting the .com--so the thought is that the European branch will detect the IP of inbound traffic and redirect all US-based addresses to us.example.com (or whatever the appropriate localized subdomain might be), which would point to the IP address of my host. I'd then serve the appropriate locale-specific content by pulling the subdomain from the $_SERVER superglobal (assuming PHP).

I couldn't find any examples of international organizations that take a subdomain-based approach for localization, but I'm not sure I have any other options as a result of the unique hosting structure here (in that there's not a unified hosting solution for the European and US sites). In my experience, the US version of an international site would live at domain.com/us, not at us.domain.com, and I'd imagine that this has to do with SEO (subdomains are treated as separate sites, so improved rankings for the US site wouldn't help the Canadian version if subdomains are used to differentiate between them).

My question is: is there a better approach to solving this problem than the one I'm taking? Ideally, I'd like to use a folder-based approach (see adidas.com as an example of what I'm talking about), but I'm not sure that's a possibility given that the US site (and other localizations) will not be hosted on the same server as the rest of the .com. Can you, in IIS, map a folder (e.g. domain.com/us) to a different IP address? What would you recommend?

Thanks for your consideration.

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Do you know which version of IIS the European site is hosted on? –  Sam Mar 8 '10 at 17:39
    
No, unfortunately. I could probably find out if need be...what were you thinking? –  justinbach Mar 8 '10 at 18:13
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2 Answers

Well, you could proxy requests to company.com/us/* to randomserver/* without much trouble (see Apache httpd's mod_proxy), but performance would probably suffer perceptibly and you would be introducing an unnecessary point of failure.

If you really want company.com/{country}/* you should really push the case of non-separate servers, strongly. Either a single-server which serves everything to everyone, or replicated servers with GeoDNS...

If you can't to that, and the US server is going to be independent, us.company.com is probably your better option, or company.us. Just make sure to choose one of them, and redirect everyone to the "canonical" URL.

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I think the best solution is to use the European host. Create the us.company.com sub-domain then redirect all traffic coming via us.company.com to company.com/us in order to use the sub-folder approach.

PS: Since you're talking about a multinational corporation you'll probably have to get a FTP user with access to that sub-domain only.

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