Alun Davies

Announcing RIPE Atlas VM Anchors

Alun Davies
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After a successful pilot project and a period spent gathering feedback from the community, RIPE Atlas Virtual Machine (VM) anchors are a go. Anyone out there who wishes to host a virtual RIPE Atlas anchor can do so starting today. Here's everything you need to know to get started.

This Is How We Do It

As we mentioned in an article on RIPE Labs published back in July, we looked into two main options on how to proceed with virtual anchors - one where hosts set up their own VMs, and another where we set up VMs for others to host. Based on the feedback received as well as our own take on the results of the pilot, we decided to go with the first option. That said, as we open applications for VM anchors, we're looking for applications from hosts who can deliver VMs that meet our requirements. 

We're not working on any plans that would fall under option two right now, but we are going to continue installing more anchors with Amazon and would be happy to work with any other cloud providers who are able to meet our requirements right out of the box. And of course, if the community expresses an interest in doing so, we'd be open to looking into option two style scenarios further down the line.


Are you interested in hosting a RIPE Atlas anchor VM? If so, click the button below and you'll be taken to the relevant sections of our website, all of which have been updated to provide you with the information you'll need to apply and to set up your virtual machine. Those who want to check the requirements should go take a look at the installation instructions for VM anchors.  

Apply to become a RIPE Atlas VM anchor host

As you'll see when you open the application form, you can specify whether you apply for a hardware or a VM anchor simply by clicking a tick box at the top of the form. 

The application process is much the same as that used for hardware anchors. Applications will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and we will be looking to ensure that any proposed anchors are well-located and that the quantity of VMs added does not create any unnecessary burdens on the RIPE Atlas system. 

Staying Connected

With the application process for RIPE Atlas VM anchors now open, we encourage anyone who is interested to get involved. One thing to note: in order to ensure that virtual anchors make a useful contribution to the RIPE Atlas measurement platform, we're relying on hosts to provide their best efforts in making sure that their anchors stay connected. 

So, just as hardware anchor hosts are required to replace their anchors if the hardware fails in some way, we'll also be depending on VM anchor hosts to keep their anchors connected and operational, taking action if needed to solve issues with the hosted anchor. This is all made clear in the Memorandum of Understanding - Hosting a RIPE Atlas Anchor.

For instance, while CentOS updates will be handled without the host needing to take any actions on their side, we will be expecting hosts to help ensure that VM anchors continue to operate when performing CentOS version upgrades. This is not an issue that we need to deal with yet, but we're already putting together a procedure that will guide anchor hosts through the process.

Also Good to Know

And since you're reading this, here are just a couple of other things that might be of interest to our readers:

  • After receiving useful feedback from one of our anchor hosts, we changed the default TLS certificate to use sha256 signatures and changed to the recommended cipher list from This will serve to ensure that RIPE Atlas anchors are better aligned with common security practices.
  • We're still offering sponsorship to support RIPE Atlas hardware anchor hosts. If you're interested in hosting a hardware anchor and would appreciate some support from the RIPE NCC in purchasing the device, you can get all the relevant information in our article on the 2018 Campaign to Sponsor 10 RIPE Atlas Anchors.
  • Last but not least, as we launch VM anchors, some of you may be wondering if we have any similar plans lined up for standard RIPE Atlas probes. In fact, we're looking into this right now, and you can expect more news about a pilot project early next year.

Summing Up

We're very pleased to be able to offer the VM option and we look forward to working with a whole new wave of RIPE Atlas anchor hosts. As always, if anyone has any questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section or email us directly at

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About the author

Alun Davies Based in Amsterdam

Hailing from a research background in philosophy, linguistics and computer science, I came to the RIPE NCC back in 2016 and took on the role of RIPE Labs Editor in 2020.

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