I've been learning about Alphablox today.
It has been a fascinating day on two counts.
Firstly, it's been my first chance in ages to study some database concepts. The whole world of OLAP was a mystery to me until today... star schema, cubes, snowflakes.... it all sounded very pretty in a geometric sort of way but I had no real understanding of what it was all about until now. In preparing this posting, I found this discussion (courtesy of Wikipedia); wish I'd read it this morning :-)
Secondly, I had no idea we had bought such a cool product. I (and the rest of the room) sat in open-jawed amazement as one of the instructors took some relational data and created - in less than a minute - a web application that graphically sliced, diced, aggregated and analysed the data in real time
IBM makes a lot of acquisitions. Sometimes it's not immediately obvious to me why we've done it. Alphablox is not one of those cases.
Even better, it is a core part of WebSphere Business Monitor. A part, I'm sorry to say, I had previously tried to hide from. No longer; I can see why they put it in and now know what questions I need to ask to make it useful.