Refactr Looks To Soar With Air Force Award

The startup aims to build greater enterprise functionality into its DevSecOps platform used by MSSPs through an Air Force program that fosters dual-use development of innovative technology from small businesses.

Refactr is taking its DevSecOps technology sky-high with a contract to develop the visual platform for the United States Air Force.

After the Seattle-based company demonstrated its integrated automation and security platform to the CTO of LevelUp Code Works, an Air Force software development organization, “it all moved fast from there,” Refactr CEO Michael Fraser told CRN.

The startup put together a proposal in January, submitted it in February, and had won a $50 thousand Air Force AFWERX Small Business Innovation Research Phase 1 grant before the end of the month, Fraser said.

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“Getting fast-tracked here is huge for us,” Fraser said.

The Air Force will examine using Refactr to automate its Platform One initiative to provide DevOps and managed security functionality to multiple Department of Defense programs.

Refactr is now preparing to apply for the second phase of the joint program—a $1.5 million grant with an additional $1.5 million fund match for any venture capital it raises—with the Army and Navy that looks to enable small businesses to offer innovative technology to DoD.

That will require the company to develop features and functionality considered dual use, “so anything we build into the platform for the Air Force has to have viability in the commercial/civilian side,” Fraser said.

“It really just maps to enterprise,” he added.

The Air Force, on behalf of other divisions of the armed services, wants to build automation pipelines to make it easier to deploy its DevSecOps Platform One. LevelUp will evaluate the potential for the Refactr Platform to reduce tool and content sprawl, enabling warfighters to improve efficiency in infrastructure management.

Fraser, who had served in the Air Force, knew of the small business initiative through veterans’ programs he participated in, which led to the introduction to the LevelUp CTO.

With a sponsorship from Microsoft, Refactr got accepted into a defense accelerator that now aims to propel the company to Phase 2 of the Air Force small business program and develop broader dual use capabilities.

“Phase 2 gives us the money to build in features and functionality that the Air Force customer wants, and longer term gives us what we need to go government-wide with our platform,” Fraser said. “If DoD is using us, that makes commercial use of our platform that much more enticing for midsize and enterprise customers.”

New features developed through the program will include a “roll your own version” of the platform and the addition of more open source tools, specifically security and policy agents.

Refactr is also considering building out a marketplace so potential customers, including the Air Force, can implement their own catalogs and vendors can push content out to those customers.

The company will continue to focus on MSSPs that have provided the bulk of its business so far, but it’s narrowing a target market to midsize and enterprise customers, “so we can ensure any part of the government work we’re doing can be easily used in the commercial world,” Fraser said.