Building and operating versatile extreme-scale computing systems that work productively for a range of frontier research domains present many challenges and opportunities. Solutions created, experiences acquired, and lessons learned, while rarely published, could drive the development of new methods and practices and raise the bar for all organizations supporting research, scholarship, and education. This paper describes the methods and procedures developed for deploying, supporting, and continuously improving the Blue Waters system and its services during the last five years. Being the first US sustained-petascale computing platform available to the open-science community, the Blue Waters project pioneered various unique practices that we are sharing to be adopted and further improved by the community. We present our support and service methodologies, and the leadership practices employed for ensuring that the system stays highly efficient and productive. We also provide the return on investment summaries related to deploying and operating the system.