I tried to ping google.com and this is what happened:

ping www.google.com
PING www.l.google.com ( 56(84) bytes of data.

Google, being so big, has many servers. When you ping www.google.com, you are pinging a DNS entry that is a CNAME, which is an alias that points to multiple servers, which operate in a round-robin setup. So if you ping it again, you may not get the same server to respond (once your DNS cache clears). That CNAME/DNS round robin setup servers up one server after another for request after request. This also allows them to bring a server down for whatever reason, like maintenance, and not skip a beat.

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There are a lot of records associated to google.com -- www.who.is/dns/google.com/

Also see, Robtex summary for www.l.google.com.

And, this graphical view of www.google.com
showing the CNAME reference www.l.google.com.

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  • 1
    And just to be clear, the "www.l.google.com" is the reverse DNS lookup of the IP – heavyd Jun 5 '11 at 6:21
  • And, adding to that, if you were to do the same ping from some other geographic location, the IP address is likely to be different. – nik Jun 5 '11 at 6:44

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