EU Server Upgrade... Let's work together to make this happen!

Discussion in 'News/Announcements' started by VintagePC, May 26, 2021.

  1. VintagePC

    VintagePC GodModePC (One-man Show) VF4-S (Server Operator) Forum Operator Minecraft Operator Global Moderator Staff Member DMC Tester TF2L developer

    Hi folks! A bit of a wall of text here but I would like to give a more complete picture of what has been going on and our plans for the EU server offerings moving forward.

    Preamble:

    So I know there is a bit of an elephant in the room - and that is the current state of our EU servers. We know the VPS they are on is barely adequate, and up until recently that was basically all we could afford. We lost our slightly more powerful loaner VPS in the massive datacenter fire and had to make an unplanned upgrade to the Frankfurt offering to relocate our services.

    Decent, real hardware isn't cheap, and we've been very fortunate to have enough recurring donations that we were recently able to afford upgrading to a dedicated server in the US with significantly more power and capacity. At the time, I looked at the numbers and by far the bulk of our donations are received from folks whose accounts are in North America. Don't get me wrong, we have a few supporters based in and near the EU, but as much as I wanted to be able to upgrade both servers at the same time or close together, the finances wouldn't allow it. We are an entirely donation and spare-time driven community and you may have noticed we do not have a single third-party advertisement anywhere on our services. We have no desire to change that since we went ad-free back in 2012. I'd be absolutely thrilled if we "only" managed to break even with enough surplus that we can safely weather any months where we have brief shortages. (This was also one of the driving reasons our upgrades have been slow to happen before)

    As you may have seen from the numbers in the supporter progress bar, we would need to reach $200/mo in donations in order to acquire an equivalent piece of hardware in the EU; and I am not sure that is likely to happen any time soon - and that is where the other catch resides. There is a large spread between the price of a VPS and the price of dedicated hardware; finding a decent "middle ground" is not necessarily easy.

    We've received some offers from folks that are willing to loan us their hardware resources to host additional servers - and believe me, I greatly appreciate the offers and am sorry I cannot take advantage of them. Over my many years running the gameservers here at VF4 I've come to the conclusion that I don't like operating such a setup; it complicates the administration, maintenance, and operation of the server, and being dependent on something we do not have full control over is not a situation I am comfortable in. (And in fact, it has burned us several times in the past) I'd much rather that we have exclusive control over what we are operating so that it can be configured to the best extent possible without needing to worry about sharing resources, who has access to what, and the additional security headaches that come with integrating external systems that can potentially become hostile through no fault of our own.

    What's Next

    Now - all of that said, I have looked at the numbers and I believe we have a path forward, and I'd like to share that with you in this post. There are some mid-tier offerings available that would at least enable us to move away from our current EU VPS, without needing the full $200/mo of income. I think this makes sense because we may not actually need equivalent hardware. Our EU outpost only needs to maintain servers, whereas our US capacity is also responsible for additional infrastructure that ties everything together.

    In this case we'd be looking at monthly expenditures of about $160 USD - an extra $35 over what we currently need per month, and $40 less than our current target for EU hardware. I think we can make this happen, or at least get close enough that I can temporarily dip into our "Rainy day" fund to cover the spread. I fully recognize it's not very appealing to support a server that doesn't meet your expectations, so I am hoping that if we are able to make the switch at a slight loss, we will see improved support from folks appreciating and wishing to support the new setup.

    We are currently expecting to bring in $84 in recurring donations this month (based on pending recurring donations before June) - which is quite a bit shy of our net monthly expenditures. So I'd like to extend an offer to meet in the middle between that and our new $160 target. If we can get to our current requirement of $125/mo by around mid-June, I'm willing to pull the trigger and do the upgrade. (That is, if our estimate based on pending recurring subscriptions shows we will meet this goal) If you like what you get as a result, then hopefully we'll see some additional supporters after the changeover to help us make up the difference that comes out-of-pocket.

    Becoming a supporter is costs as little as USD $4 per month - less than a fancy coffee at your local cafe. Donations can be recurring or not, but obviously if they are it makes it a lot easier for us to plan ahead - We don't want to make the switch only to be in a position where our expenses are unsustainable and we have to downgrade again.

    Oh - and yes, we've heard the requests to make bonus round immunity and supporter chat tags customizable. We are looking into either alternate plugins that support these features or modifying the ones we currently use. Hopefully we can achieve these requests in the near future!
    (Update: This is now possible via the "sm_settings" menu. See https://www.vaultf4.com/threads/supporter-perks-how-to-access-them-and-what-we-offer.9/ for more information)


    Thanks in advance for your understanding. You want better hardware, and I want to get you better hardware. So let's make it happen!

    (* Full disclosure - the numbers above are slightly rounded values and don't account for the fact PayPal takes about 30 cents of every $4 transaction)
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2021
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