CentOS is blessed by Red Hat these days and I was under the impression that packages are essentially new compiles from the same sources as Red Hat. What causes delays?
(Asking out of pure interest, not malice in any form.)
The answer to that was provided generally, but it's because CentOS had to redo their entire build system for 8.
They make a lot of money from RHEL licenses so why give a clone of it away on day one of a major release.
The purpose of RHEL is not to build CentOS. It's to sell RHEL. Red Hat helps with CentOS because CentOS drives business to RHEL. That doesn't mean that Red Hat benefits by diluting their branding. Red Hat didn't become the biggest name in enterprise Linux by not putting their name on the product they're selling.
Oracle completed and announced their clone of Red Hat 8 on July 18th:
Oracle is generally faster than CentOS in reissuing upstream changes, and perhaps CentOS as a project was able to take some direction from the results of Oracle's speed and focus.
What are you talking about? Redhat acquired the CentOS project and hired the developers as full time employees dedicated to working on CentOS. There is absolutely an organization behind it and it is 100% not made up entirely of volunteers.
In that case, I have no idea why there is an extensive delay.
How would I switch from being a CentOS shop to a RHEL shop if I all of a sudden find myself needing support?
Of course, if you are running your systems using modern devops design principles, then you can redeploy your infrastructure based on RHEL repositories instead of CentOS.
As to why you would use it vs other Linux distributions? It's well supported by commercial software, server hardware, and there's a large pool of people with Red Hat certification which is directly applicable to CentOS. It's also pretty mature and not prone to sudden changes.
I would imagine that most RHEL customers are to be found in more conservative sectors of business, but that could just be my personal biases :)
Let me show you how much they love CentOS:
Exasol and CentOS are alone in TPC-H database performance. There is no other competitive player.