What do you like best?
Parse's complete stack offering was the main draw. Its completeness was illustrated straight away when the documentation and 'Getting Started' docs were first read. This made me feel it was sufficiently solid to base our product off of.
It provided us with a foundation to build our unique logic upon. That meant we could avoid reinventing the wheel in so many instances, especially when it came to remote database synchronisation — easily the most challenging part of our app's requirements.
What do you dislike?
At first my primary dislike was how one-size-fits-all its approach to dev was. It meant our app had to be designed around Parse's development philosophy, rather than it fitting our's.
But a year on, obviously my biggest dislike of it was the way it was discontinued. Suddenly we found ourselves having to prematurely rewrite large portions of the app in addition to a whole new backend. This definitely makes me think twice about trusting anther startup with the core operations of any future apps I write.
Recommendations to others considering the product
Be sure what timespan you require the use of the product over, and then create contingency plans in the event that the platform is no longer available to you in the form it once was.
Don't let it be an excuse to not have knowledge / experience in the most difficult parts of the technology stack (such as database synchronisation and offline caching), as you may find yourself need to to rapidly develop a different approach when your original plan is no longer viable.
What business problems are you solving with the product? What benefits have you realized?
Parse solved our immediate need for a backend, dramatically reducing the initial development time by several weeks. It cut our costs, but more importantly, cut the time to market.
The primary business benefit I see emerging from this product is the ability to prototype and deploy apps in a very short time span, therefore enabling far more experimentation to take place in the development and idea creation space.