With its launch at the very end of 2013, ESA's astrometry satellite Gaia began its endeavor to compile astrometric and photometric measurements of at least one billion objects, as well as high resolution optical spectra of hundred million objects. The Gaia catalog therefore results in a wealth of coherently determined astrophysical parameters of these objects. After its extensive commissioning phase, Gaia entered the nominal mission phase in July 2014. The science ground segment, which is formed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC), has since then started its operations. DPAC is a large, multi-national, science consortium which has to handle and process the dense and complex Gaia data stream. With its decentralized management and its distributed infrastructure, the Gaia DPAC is a remarkable undertaking. In this paper we will summarize some of the experiences of the DPAC facing the real Gaia data, compare this to the pre-launch expectations, and critically review the development phase.