30 Best Leaders To Watch 2020

Refactr: A Team of Superheroes Modernizing IT Securely Through Automation


“We offer a radically simple DevSecOps automation platform for tech teams”

The IT infrastructure landscape has undergone exponential changes over the past decade. The shift to agile cloud computing platforms, shared storage and data, and dynamic applications have brought huge benefits to organizations looking to thrive and grow through the use of advanced applications and services. DevOps applications have stormed ahead in terms of speed, scale, and functionality. For this reason, DevSecOps was introduced into the software development lifecycle to bring development, operations, and security together under one umbrella.

Refactr is a veteran-founded software company based in Seattle with expertise in cloud, automation, and cybersecurity. The primary mission of the firm is to empower tech teams to provide IT-as-Code solutions to its customers in an everything-as-a-service business model by leveraging existing open DevSecOps tools. It also offers a full-service cloud-based platform for orchestrating multiple IT automation tools in a visual designer, as well as playbook. cloud, the world’s first Ansible-as-a-Service product.

The company is headquartered in Seattle, WA.

In Conversation with Michael Fraser, Refactr Co-founder and CEO

What was the reason behind the genesis of Refactr?

Korrine Leiter-Fraser, Anthony Rowlands, and I co-founded Refactr in 2017. We had a strong working relationship from some prior ventures. We first started out with the idea to bring a cloud-focused automation platform, and the first version of the platform was called the Cloud + Security Architect Platform launched in November 2018. After working with a few customers on the platform, it became apparent from feedback that it was vital to support DevOps tools natively like Red Hat Ansible. Our next step to prove the IP we needed to build was to create and launch, the world’s first Ansible-as-a-Service offering in June 2019, where Ansible playbooks could be run from a browser in a secure container in the cloud. We then took that technology and rewrote the front end of our platform to streamline everything into the Refactr Platform that was launched in November 2019.

A well-defined mission and vision statement is the most important phenomenon for any business. Can you explain your M&V statements in brief?

Refactr’s mission is to accelerate the cultural shift toward modern DevOps workflows among security and IT teams by providing an all-in-one, highly usable, radically simple DevSecOps automation platform. Our goal is to get everyone in IT to collaborate together as they move towards the future state of the industry, IT-as-Code. The mission addresses the fact that there is a major talent shortage, and to solve for this issue, innovative automation products and platforms are required. This is met with the fact that there is a shift to the cloud, and everything as Code, IT-as-Code including Infrastructure as Code, Configuration as Code, and Security as Code.

The bottom line is that there is a talent shortage when it comes to Cloud, DevSecOps, and cybersecurity, and the only way to solve for the supply and demand issue is to empower existing technical talent with automation tools and platforms that help them do more every day.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you overcome it?

My greatest fear is that technology cannot keep up with the needs and wants of our customers. This market is evolving quickly, and new tools and methods are emerging quickly. I manage to mitigate this fear by constantly thinking about how to stay many steps ahead and continually updating my vision of the future. I also juggle many ideas on how to adapt to changes in the market and global issues that impact our customers and our company.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business’ success?

I would say that it is Korrine, my co-founder and partner. She has pushed me to pursue my passion to innovate over the past 12 years we have been together. Having a partner support you through the ups and downs of business is critical to being able to execute on an idea. She has helped me develop the resilience needed to become successful in business.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Understand that you only have one life to live and take calculated risks. There is never a good time to start a venture in life; you just have to make the leap.

What do you think is the most memorable moment in your career?

Getting our United States Air Force AFWERX SBIR 20.1 Phase I award in March 2020. Being an Air Force veteran myself, I was ecstatic when we got the news we were awarded the contract, as I could come back full circle and bring innovation to the Air Force. This also validated the much larger opportunity for us in the Department of Defense as this was also the first joint program with other branches of the military including the Navy and Army. This Phase I contract what we needed as a company to take what we are doing in DevSecOps automation and disrupt the entire tech world with our dual use approach to both government and enterprise.

What are your future focus areas?

I am focused on disrupting and modernizing IT as everything in IT becoming code, aka IT-as-Code.  This can only be done with the application of the principles of DevSecOps, and we are the tipping point of the shift towards this completely new approach to IT.

I am also very interested in Augmented Reality as it applies to autistic children, even doing my research project for my Master in Computer Science on how to apply AR to help autistic children communicate more effectively in social situations. I will be focusing time to turn that research project into a commercial product in the future.

Michael Fraser: The Superhero Behind the Success of Refactr

Michael Fraser, Co-founder, serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Refactr. Mr. Fraser started his career in the United States Air Force working on F-15 fighter jets weapons systems and later as a cybersecurity engineer. While on active duty, Mr. Fraser started his first company when he was 19 years old, a retail computer repair store and has since founded multiple tech companies. He has published many feature articles including in Redmond Channel Partners, featured on the cover of Channel Pro Magazine and has presented at numerous industry events, including CRN, various Microsoft events, RedHatAnsibleFest, DevOps Days, and All Day DevOps. Mr. Fraser aspires to be the world’s coolest dad for his 5-year-old autistic daughter. In his spare time, he is creating an Augmented Reality app to help autistic children communicate in social situations. He earned a bachelor’s degree from North Seattle College in Application Development and has a Master of Science in Computer Science from Seattle University.

Technology changes, people adapt. At Refactr, we innovate to make the world more agile through the next shift of technology into IT-as-Code.