How I Tackle Marketplace with Sunny Ho, Cloudinary

How I tackle the Marketplace banner of Sunny Ho

What is your role?

As director of technology partnerships at Cloudinary, I manage our alliance with AWS with two goals:

  1. Ensure that our customers unleash the full potential of their media assets with Cloudinary through the AWS infrastructure.
  2. Scale our global business with AWS.


Tell me about your career path and the journey that led you to this role.

I started my career in the semiconductor industry as a wafer planner. To fulfill my desire to work with customers, I took up a sales position at a company that maintained cleanroom facilities. Those were the days when there were cleanrooms in Silicon Valley.

I moved to software sales in the early 2000s, and the rest is history. I just love the tech industry. Silicon Valley, where I live, has afforded me opportunities to work with extremely smart people and access some of the greatest tech inventions before they reach the rest of the world.

What in your opinion are the characteristics that make for a successful alliances leader?

Like the symphony conductor, an alliance manager must ensure that both partners play in tune.

To me, because alliance management critically accounts for the success of partnerships, it’s one of the best roles in an organization. Like the symphony conductor, an alliance manager must ensure that both partners play in tune.

Most alliance managers are seasoned, mature business executives and relationship builders possessive of superb interpersonal skills and experience in collaborating with cross-functional teams—all prerequisites for alliance managers to excel in their role. To succeed, Alliances leaders must be self-confident, emotionally balanced, people oriented, and capable of tackling setbacks and rejections in stride. 

In addition, those leaders must perform these tasks well:

  • Balance between long-term relationships and shorter-term goals. 
  • Manage stakeholders and advocate for partners at all levels within the organization. 
  • Recognize the unique context in which your organization and partner operate and seamlessly align them for mutual benefit. 
  • Synthesize issues and simplify complex problems for presentation to cross-functional teams for resolution. 


Where did your Marketplace journey start and where are you now?

The popularity of our image and video management solution among developers incentivized us to make available Cloudinary’s free version through AWS Marketplace. That way, we can better serve the developer audience as its needs grow. 

Here’s a look back at the start and progress so far:

  • We launched our first public offer in AWS Marketplace in 2013.
  • We served as a launch partner of the AWS SaaS Marketplace in 2016.  
  • Pursuant to a question from a customer on whether Cloudinary plans were available for purchase through AWS Marketplace, we revamped our Marketplace listing in 2020 to accommodate private offers. Today, many of our enterprise customers are actively deployed on cloud platforms through contracts with AWS, GCP, and Microsoft. 
  • We launched on GCP Marketplace in 2021. In being able to transact on the Marketplaces, our customers can reduce their commitments with AWS or GCP and streamline the procurement and invoicing process. In addition, we can close deals faster and align better with the cloud sellers on the co-selling front.
  • Given our activity on AWS Marketplace, we were recently invited to participate in several awareness and demand-generation campaigns with AWS. We welcomed that as an excellent way in which to promote awareness of the Cloudinary brand.


What advice would you give to someone thinking about selling on Marketplace?

Create relevant, clear collateral for your sellers on the whys and hows of adopting Marketplaces

  • Garner support from your organization. Be sure to earn endorsement from key stakeholders in sales, finance, operations, and legal on why your company needs to be on Marketplaces. Also, given the difference between Marketplace transactions and direct ones, explain and secure agreement from stakeholders on how you plan to process Marketplace transactions. 
  • Establish compensation neutrality. Compensation neutrality is key to successful adoption of Marketplaces. Obviously, penalizing your sellers by deducting Marketplace fees from their commission would negatively impact adoption efforts. Consider Marketplace fees a transaction fee as you would the fees charged by credit-card companies. 
  • Make it easy for your sellers.​ Create relevant, clear collateral for your sellers on the whys and hows of adopting Marketplaces and then hand-hold them through their first couple of deals for a smooth climb up the learning curve. It took us two enablement sessions over a period of ​one to two quarters to convince our sellers to start thinking about leveraging AWS Marketplace to help them collaborate with cloud sellers and close deals faster.
  • Don’t dilly-dallyjust get started. Partnering with Tackle was the best decision we made when relaunching our AWS Marketplace listing. Not only did Tackle help us relaunch in only two weeks, they also answered our questions and suggested best practices.

I would also recommend that sellers adopt one Marketplace at a time, refining processes before embarking on the next launch.


Tell me something that might surprise people about you. Or, a fun fact about you or a favorite hobby.

As a self-proclaimed boba connoisseur, I’ve been boba tasting since 1996 before that beverage became mainstream. I’m devoted to my pet, Grimlock, a 120-pound African tortoise who consumes about 2-3 pounds of vegetables a day. Contrary to what most people think about tortoises, he moves fast, especially when he sees your painted toes and figures that they are grapes.