The Silicon Review
With development, operations and security teams fully migrating their work to the cloud, companies are always on the lookout for solutions to help them overcome new challenges emerging in today’s era of IT-as-Code, where software defines everything. This usually requires the smart use of technology, namely automation. Automation is a force to reckon with, especially in situations where speed, scale and security are key. With automation, tech teams can finally turn their attention away from routine management and configuration tasks to innovative projects that defend a company’s competitive edge.
The reality is, software-defined solutions rely on repetitive tasks across development, security and operations. Most of this work can be done with automation, but without the necessary tools and expertise, teams defer to legacy manual processes that cost thousands of productive work hours. This is where Refactr comes in. Refactr is an automation platform helping organizations jumpstart their race to IT-as-Code by introducing the latest automation techniques in DevSecOps. With Refactr’s platform, tech teams can overcome IT-as-Code challenges including creating repeatable solutions, synchronizing cross-functional work processes, and baking security early into the development process.
Refactr is a Seattle-based DevSecOps startup founded in 2017 by military veterans and industry experts in cloud and cybersecurity. Its mission is to accelerate the adoption of DevSecOps methodologies among security and DevOps teams.
In conversation with Michael Fraser, Co-Founder and CEO of Refactr
Q. How successful was your first product release?
Our first product, the Cloud + Security Architect Platform (CSAP), was released in 2018. We were lucky to work with a few beta partners; their feedback was critical for iterating on the first version of our product. Shortly after our launch, we won PitchIT, a ConnectWise IT Nation competition that awarded us $100,000. It was a fantastic experience to have our vision and hard work validated with this win.
Q. What kind of mixed responses have you received from your consumers over the years? How have they motivated you to shape your offerings/grow the company?
Response over the years has been interesting. Recently, we spoke to one of our first customers who has seen each product version. The conversation illuminated a couple of things: it was encouraging to realize that we’ve been iterating in a productive way that not only addresses real-world use cases but also honors the original vision of Refactr. I was also very impressed by the number of iterations our small team has made since our launch.
Q. “You can earn trust and respect of customers only by delivering high quality products and services.” Do you agree with the statement?
High quality products and services are critical, but they are not enough. It’s also important to us that we are an upstanding company that customers feel good about transacting with. That means having a strong vision and company culture, prioritizing their security, and facilitating open communication with our team. If we make mistakes, we are transparent and make corrections rapidly. These are some facets of a company that we believe customers can trust.
Q. Fostering a culture of feedback is crucial to the success of every organization. How is this true with your company?
It is absolutely critical for us. Customer feedback is essential to defining market fit as well as the continued success of our product. Beyond that, employee feedback is what makes us a great company to grow with. Lastly, stakeholder feedback guides us towards scalability.
Q. If you have to list five factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?
The first factor would be the right team of founders. The second would be the right pivots from customer feedback. The third is timing the market. The fourth is the ability to use open source projects in our platform. Finally, letting go of fear of failure; failure is an opportunity to make a new choice and open a new path to possibly a bigger success. If nothing else, failure is a chance to learn to do better.
Q. Do you have any new features ready in the near term to be launched?
We are working on some exciting new features in our platform that will launch in the next few months, including adding security and policy open source tools and a self-hosted agent so that automation pipelines in our platform can be launched in a hybrid approach. With our current Department of Defense / Air Force work, we are also going to have an air-gapped, roll-your-own-version of our entire platform that is deployable into any organization’s own on-premise or cloud environment.
Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?
We see ourselves in the position of making the world more agile through the next shift of technology into IT-as-Code. For government and commercial entities alike, we will be the most usable, collaborative, and secure DevSecOps solution available on the market.
Meet the leader behind the success of Refactr
Michael Fraser is the Co-founder and CEO at Refactr, a DevSecOps startup he cofounded with with Anthony Rowlands and Korrine Leiter-Fraser. Michael 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, Michael started his first company at 19 years old, a retail computer repair store. He has since founded multiple tech companies while serving in the military, including a MSP and cloud security consulting firm. After nearly a decade, Michael left the military to focus on his dream to build a software startup in the DevSecOps space. While running his startup, Michael earned a Bachelor degree at North Seattle College in a year and finished a Master of Computer Science at Seattle University in June 2019. Michael is currently an adjunct instructor at Seattle Central College, teaching courses in Cloud, Cybersecurity and DevOps. He has featured on the cover of Channel Pro Magazine and has presented at numerous industry events, including CRN, various Microsoft events, RedHat AnsibleFest, DevOps Days, and All Day DevOps. Michael 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.