Perhaps the proprietary nature of most storage hardware is to blame, but we don't often see open source and storage in the same sentence. That's unfortunate, because bringing the low acquisition cost of open source applications to, say, storage management would be a welcome change for many companies.
My guess is that it will take some time for this controversial open source project to start bearing fruit, but if you just need a robust and powerful backup application, there is much to choose from right now.
Take, for example, AMANDA. Its clever acronym stands for Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver. This is an open source backup application that can consolidate backup streams from multiple machines to a central Linux server over the network.
Fear not if you have Microsoft boxes, because AMANDA can back up shares from just about any Windows OS using Cygwin or Samba.
As its name suggests, AMANDA was initially created at the University of Maryland and has been in the public domain since 1991. AMANDA can count about 20,000 deployments, from universities and research labs, to large companies such as Charles Schwab and Merrill Lynch.
The number of deployments could be even larger because AMANDA has a set of features comparable with those of major commercial backup applications. But as opposed to those pricey competitors, AMANDA doesn't create backup files in a proprietary format, which means no vendor lock-in. In fact, you could restore files from an AMANDA backup using plain OS tools.
So why is AMANDA less popular than it could be? Because many potential adopters are uncomfortable with the idea of not having a support throat to choke when push comes to shove. Moreover, many corporate policies explicitly prohibit installing applications without a maintenance and support contract.
If this sounds familiar, allow me to introduce Zmanda, a recently founded company that, to quote from their mission statement, "offers proven and cost-effective open source backup and recovery solutions."
Zmanda follows a business model that is quite popular in open source and has been proved successful by illustrious examples such as Red Hat. In essence, you subscribe to a yearly maintenance contract with Zmanda -- removing the two obstacles to adopting open source software I mentioned above.
If the name of the company is not a sufficient giveaway (A-MANDA, Z-manda, get it?), looking at this wiki should clarify which application is the main target of their support offering.