Managing Resource Mailboxes in Exchange Server 2007 (Part 1)
July 8, 2011 Leave a comment
In this article we will be looking at how to create Resource Mailboxes using the Exchange Management Console and Exchange Management Shell, how to convert a Regular Mailbox into a Resource Mailbox, and finally we will identify the differences between a Resource Mailbox and a Regular Mailbox.
Creating Resource Mailboxes using the Exchange Management Console
Exchange Server 2007 allows administrators to create objects such as Mailbox, Contacts, Mail User, and Distribution Groups. Here are the steps needed to create a resource mailbox object:
Open the Exchange Management Console.
Expand Recipient Configuration.
Click on Mailbox.
In the Mailbox pane, click on New Mailbox…
Introduction. We have to choose what kind of object we are creating, in Exchange Server 2007 we have four different kinds of mailbox types:
User mailbox: This is a traditional mailbox, the process to create mailbox at Exchange Server 2007 is explained in the MSExchange.org article Managing Mailboxes in Exchange Server 2007.
Room mailbox: This is a mailbox to be assigned specifically to Meeting Rooms. Its associated user account will be disabled in Active Directory.
Equipment mailbox: This is a mailbox specific to equipment, (i.e. TV, Projector, GPS and etc). As with a Resource mailbox, this kind of mailbox will create a disabled user in Active Directory.
Linked Mailbox: This kind of mailbox will be used in environments with multiple forests. This specific feature is explained in the article Deploying an Exchange Resource Forest.
In the Introduction window, select Room Mailbox and then click Next to continue. (Figure 01)
Figure 01: Choosing what kind of mailbox it will be created
User Type. In the User Type window, we can choose either to create a new user or to assign an existent user to the new resource mailbox. If we choose to assign it to an existent user, we will have to check if the account does not already have a mailbox associated to it. Click Next to continue.
User Information. In the User Information window, we should fill out the user’s personal information and select the Organization Unit where it will be created. After that click on Next (Figure 02).
Figure 02: Filling out the Resource mailbox user information data and choosing the OU
Mailbox Settings. On the Mailbox Settings page, we can define the mailbox information such as Alias, Mailbox Server, and Mailbox Store where the new resource mailbox will be located. The policies for Mailbox and ActiveSync can also be defined in this step. We can choose which fields we are going to fill out and then click Next to continue. (Figure 03)
Figure 03: Choosing Server, Storage Group, Mailbox database and policies during the mailbox creation process
New Mailbox. In the New Mailbox window, we will get a summary of all the information that we have selected in the previous steps. These parameters will be used by the cmdlet New-Mailbox for the creation of this resource mailbox object. To create the resource mailbox, click on New (Figure 04).
Figure 04: The parameters that will be used in the creation of the new resource mailbox
Completion. In the Completion window, we will see the cmdlet New-mailbox and the parameters that we used in the creation process of this new resource mailbox. The difference between a normal mailbox and a resource is the parameter –room or -Equipment in the cmdlet New-Mailbox. We can see the –Room at the end of the cmdlet in Figure 05.
Figure 05: The final screen of the New Mailbox Wizard, showing to us the cmdlet used in the creation of the Resource mailbox
There is a third option that is called -Share, and we use this option to create a mailbox only through the Exchange Management Shell. When we use the cmdlet new-mailbox –Shared we create a mailbox with a disabled user account, the purpose of the share parameter is to create a mailbox that is accessed by other users, a general mailbox.
Creating Resource mailboxes through the Exchange Management Shell
The other way of creating a resource mailbox is using the Exchange Management Shell. To do this, we can use a cmdlet called New-Mailbox. There are many parameters associated with this command-let, and the required parameters for the cmdlet are the following:
And the parameter to choose the resource type
– Room: Room Resource Mailbox
– Equipment: Equipment Resource Mailbox
– Shared: Shared Resource Mailbox
To create a user using the Exchange Management Shell, we can run the following cmdlet:
New-Mailbox -name <name> -Database <Database name> -OrganizationalUnit Users –UserPrincipalName <UPN value, example: Meeting.Room.Name@contoso.local> -<ResourceType: Room, Equipment or Shared>
If we do not type all the required parameters, we will get a prompt asking for the parameters that are missing. For Resource Mailboxes the Password is not requested during the process, as shown in Figure 06.
Figure 06: Creating a mailbox through the cmdlet New-Mailbox in the Exchange Management Console
Analyzing the Resource mailboxes
A Resource Mailbox is different in many ways from a regular mailbox, such as Active Directory, specific Attributes, specific features through OWA, and there is a special place in the schedule assistant for them.
In the Active Directory, all the Resource Mailboxes are created as disabled accounts, as shown in Figure 07. This means that we cannot log on to the network with resource mailbox user credentials.
Figure 07: All Resource mailboxes as disabled accounts
In OWA under Options we have a new item called Resource Settings, specifically for Resource Mailboxes, as shown in Figure 08. We will be looking at this in the second part of this article series.
Figure 08: Resource Settings item that appears when we have a Resource mailbox
Using either OWA or Outlook 2007, we have a Scheduling Assistant feature that simplifies booking meetings. The feature recommends the best days and times for meetings by providing a color-coded interface (Figure 09). In the example below, the Assistant shows that 4 of 4 Attendees are available at 11:30 and 6 rooms are available (because the Chicago Room has an appointment at that suggested time).
Figure 09: Scheduling Assistant in action. We can validate the free time among the participants and Meeting Rooms using the Suggested Times tool
Another feature is that when we add new mailbox rooms to the view above there is a special list called All Rooms which allows us to pick only Room Mailboxes (Figure 10).
Figure 10: Choosing a Room Mailbox to check availability
Finally, we can see all resource mailboxes through the Exchange Management Shell, as shown in Figure 11. Resource Mailboxes have four specific attributes: IsResource, ResourceType, ResourceCapacity and Resource Custom.
Figure 11: All resource mailboxes and what type they are using Exchange Management Shell
Allowing a user to get access to the Resource mailbox
After creation and validation of the resource mailbox, we can add permission for a specific user to control the Resource Mailbox. We can do that using the cmdlet called Add-MailboxPermission (Figure 12), with the following parameters:
Add-MailboxPermission –Identity <Resource-Mailbox> -User <user> -AccessRights <Access Allowed> -InheritanceType <Inheritance’s Type>
Figure 12: Giving a user permission to log on to the Resource mailbox
Now, the user specified in the Add-MailboxPermission cmdlet can access the Resource Mailbox. We can accomplish this using an OWA session. Open OWA using the credentials that have access to the Resource mailbox, and then click on the name of the logged user in the upper-right side of OWA and type in the name of the Resource Mailbox and click Open, as shown in Figure 13.
Figure 13: Accessing the Resource mailbox through OWA
After that, a new window will appear with an OWA session of the specified Resource Mailbox and then we can configure the resource mailbox features of this account
Converting a mailbox to Resource mailbox
Ok, let’s suppose that we have created a regular mailbox instead of a resource mailbox. Should we delete and start the process over again? No, it is not necessary; we can convert from a Regular Mailbox to a Resource mailbox or vice-versa:
Let’s make sure that the mailbox (meeting.room.quebec) is not a resource.
Get-Mailbox <Mailbox> | select Name,IsResource
Ok, someone created that mailbox as a Regular mailbox, let’s convert it to a Resource mailbox.
Set-Mailbox <Mailbox to be converted> -Type Room
Now, let’s validate our conversion using the first cmdlet (step 1).
We can see the steps above in Figure 14, where we use the cmdlets to convert a mailbox to a Resource Mailbox.
Figure 14: Converting a mailbox to a Resource mailbox
We have just seen how to create a resource mailbox using either the Exchange Management Console or Exchange Management Shell. We also saw what the differences between a Resource Mailbox in relation to a Regular Mailbox were, how to convert from a mailbox to a resource mailbox, and to give permissions in the resource mailboxes for specific users. In the second article we will cover how to manage the Resource mailboxes.