At my business, Jeneration Web Development, I build and maintain Drupal websites without using Features (GASP!)
I still export lots of things into code. I still package everything up neatly. I still deploy these exportables along with my other code changes. But I do it in a way that leaves my Drupal sites more preformant, saves me and my developers time, saves my clients money, and most importantly, saves us all our sanity.