What is most valuable?
The single most beneficial feature is the rapid development and prototyping of the product. I was able to construct real demoable software in a very short time and show the client. The technology is a no-brainer and allows me to focus on the business of the client over mastering or wrestling with the software. Not only do I create workable software, but due to the high-level nature of how logic is written (using Microflows akin to Business Processing Models), a business person can clearly understand the code itself.
Their attention to detail and resistance to feature bloat to maintain the platform’s elegance and simplicity drives the platform’s success in integrating business an IT. They have implemented the right features, like easy integration mechanisms, robust configurable security, database and client device portability, a project and team work portal and much more to deliver valuable solutions, fast.
How has it helped my organization?
During an implementation of a Rules Engine for Credit Risk and Loan Eligibility which integrates various Credit Bureaux data systems for online loan applications, we experienced some performance issues. We then broke out into four teams to find optimizations of which three teams were technical and one was business analysis. The team who came up with the best solution, was the business analysis team. Since they could understand the flow of logic in the microflows, they could reorganize certain calls and optimize the process to gain the few milliseconds we needed to bring the application inside it's non-functional performance requirements.
This example shows that something that used to be confined to hidden alleys of the IT department was solved by business people with knowledge of the business process : Mendix enables a frictionless interaction between the business and IT domains to produce integrated solutions rather than point optimisations.
What needs improvement?
Reporting isn't Mendix' strong suite. The Business Modeler is amazing for rapid application development but the Reporting lags behind. Mendix relies on third party products who specialize in reporting to supplement their product. Other areas where they could improve are already on the roadmap, for instance clustering and NoSQL databases. Generally speaking the community and R&D are on the ball when it comes to features that their client base desire.
For how long have I used the solution?
I've used this product since 2010, that is six years.
What was my experience with deployment of the solution?
Deployment is straightforward and very solid.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Stability is not a problem, although you might have to tune your environment for its use cases since the out-of-the-box configuration, like any app, is for general use cases, but there is no real problem here.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Scalability requires a bit more expertise but is not insurmountable, at least not for any of the products we have developed, which includes Big Data climate sensor systems, GIS, Risk Decisioning, Lead/Queue Management, Loan Origination/Loan Applications both online- and agent-based channels like phone/email/web/mobile etc.
How are customer service and technical support?
Generally support is friendly, helpful and professional. There are two channels of support, the Forum and the Support Portal.
The community is very active over the Forums and included the participation of the Core R&D team.
The support portal does have a few minor problems but when you make Mendix aware of this, they strive to accommodate the pain-points. In no way do these pain-points prevent Mendix from finding a temporary workable solution. For instance, if I am unable to log a bug for a client because of an account restriction, they would log bugs on my behalf. After that communication is followed up on properly and I'm pretty happy with the process, except that their support portal is in the Netherlands, so there is a slight time difference if you are working in the Americas.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Mendix is a first-rate business modeling solution. We have evaluated other solutions which focus more on the technology and gives developers too much flexibility with which they could hang themselves. This sounds counter-intuitive, but in real fact Mendix is a modeling solution that evolves upward in the software evolutionary chain, in that it is business-centric instead of being tech-centric; you model instead of code. We've been stuck in the code-mode for decades. Modeling isn't a new concept but it is hard to craft a first-rate modeling solution which Mendix has done a great job at.
Using the modeler frees you from technological burden and gives you more space to focus on mastering the business of the client.
How was the initial setup?
Setup is an easy wizard installation process. It is straightforward and downloads and installs missing dependencies like the Java Runtime and SDK.
What about the implementation team?
We have done both in the past, but mostly it is done in-house. As the product matured over the past few years, we became completely independent of vendors, since everything required is well documented and supported. In cases of emergencies, a quick forum post is enough to fill missing gaps.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Despite high licensing costs, the time and cost of development is dramatically reduced. On average our timelines are in the range of five to 10 times faster than choosing a more traditional software approach. Licensing costs are on negotiation basis, and this works for countries with weaker currencies and global economic disadvantages, like countries in Africa.
What other advice do I have?
Find people who are willing to try something different, people with a teachable attitude. Mendix is a paradigm-shift and might not appeal to ego-centric developers in their comfort zone who want under-the-hood control. Instead they should be business orientated, concerned with delivering working software fast and interacting with clients.