Modernization of VATSIM Infrastructure

Posted by Matt C - August 15, 2019

Last weekend, August 10th and 11th, VATSIM’s Network Services department embarked on an ambitious project to complete the modernization of our user-facing FSD servers. We provisioned 6 brand new FSD servers and retired the majority of our legacy infrastructure.

Previously, VATSIM used a combination of servers provided by staff members as well as servers donated by individual members of our community. We provisioned the network this way to achieve a large enough scale to operate. This was necessary but caused delays in running patches and upgrades through the network as there were many parties whom we had to contact.

Some of our community donated servers are still being used. We plan on phasing these out over the coming months. Those owners will be contacted individually. The Founders, BoG, and the membership all thank them for their donation and support. VATSIM could not have survived for the past 18 years without their generosity.

When it comes to our scale, VATSIM certainly has the numbers behind it. We have users connecting to the network from all corners of the globe. Our project has included the selective provisioning of servers to meet the needs of our members, no matter where they are in the world. 

Some key features of the new VATSIM Infrastructure:

  • Hosted on SSD based Virtual Machines with large bandwidth uplinks.
  • Our infrastructure now uses a private backbone network with physically diverse paths for communication between nodes. Reducing our reliance on the public internet and thus decreasing latency and improving stability.
  • All infrastructure will be managed using Salt (https://github.com/saltstack/salt). This will allow VATSIM’s System Administrators to deploy additional FSD servers, services, and changes into the network in a matter of minutes. Deployments are standardized to ensure systems are uniform.

This project was just one step towards our goal of the complete modernization of VATSIM’s technology, and I can honestly say that I am extremely excited for what the future has in store for us. 

Happy Simming!

Matt Cianfarani

Vice President - Network Systems

VATSIM.net