Resource Mailboxes in Exchange 2010 (Part 1)

by [Published on 2 Nov. 2010 / Last Updated on 2 Nov. 2010]

A deep dive into the creation, configuration and use of resource mailboxes in Exchange 2010.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

Many organizations that I have come across that have implemented Exchange have found the need to create mailboxes that represent resources, such as conference rooms or equipment items such as whiteboards, projectors and so on. By creating such resources, users can then book them via the calendaring feature of Exchange in much the same way that they would book fellow attendees, thereby reserving the resource item for their use.

In versions of Exchange prior to Exchange 2007, the overall resource mailbox process was not quite as smooth as it could be. For example, in Markus Klein’s article here on MSExchange.org, you will see that it was possible to use public folders for resources although this had one or two drawbacks such as a lack of free/busy information being presented in the calendar. If a mailbox was created for the resource, the main administration topic focused on who would monitor the resource bookings. For example, if two people booked the same meeting room, would the first person to request the room be granted the booking? Or would the most senior person be granted the booking? The Auto Accept Agent helped in this area as it was used to automatically process meeting request for resource mailboxes.

With Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010, a new approach to resources has been made. Exchange 2007 and Exchange 2010 support automatic booking of resource mailboxes, meaning that tools like the Auto Accept Agent are no longer required. Starting with Exchange 2007, resource mailboxes had, for the first time, specific Active Directory attributes that related to the use of resources, such as an attribute that specified the number of people that a meeting room could hold. This model is largely the same in Exchange 2010 and it is Exchange 2010 and Outlook 2010 that I am going to focus on in this article series.

So let’s get going and take a look at resource mailboxes in Exchange 2010.

Creating Resource Mailboxes

Creating resource mailboxes is very easy and can be done using either the Exchange Management Console or the Exchange Management Shell. In the Exchange Management Console, creating a resource mailbox is much the same process as creating a new user mailbox. When clicking the New Mailbox action in the action pane the administrator is presented with the screen shown in Figure 1, you can see the options to create either a room mailbox or an equipment mailbox.


Figure 1: Creating a Room or Equipment Mailbox

One of the interesting things to note regarding resource mailboxes is that the associated Active Directory user account is automatically disabled as indicated by the text shown in Figure 1. For example, in Figure 2 it can be seen that a new room resource mailbox Active Directory user account is being created for Conference Room A. If you look closely at the user account icon in Figure 3, it can be seen that the associated Active Directory user account is automatically disabled once it has been created. This raises an interesting point if you pre-create an Active Directory account and then use the Exchange Management Console to mailbox-enable this Active Directory account with a resource mailbox. Remember to disable the Active Directory account that you pre-create, otherwise it will not show up in the Exchange Management Console as a valid account to mailbox-enable as a resource mailbox.


Figure 2: Creating the Associated Active Directory User Account


Figure 3: Disabled Active Directory User Account

It is also possible to use the Exchange Management Shell to create a resource mailbox via the New-Mailbox cmdlet. For example, to create the room resource mailbox for Conference Room B via the Exchange Management Shell, the following command can be used:

New-Mailbox -Name 'Conference Room B' -Alias 'ConfRoomB’ -UserPrincipalName 'ConfRoomB@neilhobson.com' -FirstName 'Conference' -LastName 'Room B' –Room

The results of running this command can be seen in Figure 4. Note that this command doesn’t specify the name of the mailbox database in which to store the resource mailbox as the system has been allowed to choose a database at random. If it is a requirement to create this mailbox on a particular database, the –Database parameter of the New-Mailbox cmdlet can be used. Additionally, this command also doesn’t specify an organizational unit in which to store the user account so the default Users container will be used. If you need to specify a different organizational unit, then use the –OrganizationalUnit parameter, an example of which is shown below:

-OrganizationalUnit 'neilhobson.com/Resource Mailboxes'


Figure 4: Creating a Resource Mailbox via the Exchange Management Shell

It can be seen from the New-Mailbox cmdlet shown above that the key parameter used to identify this mailbox as a resource mailbox is the –Room parameter right at the end of the command. This obviously informs the system that the resource mailbox being created is a room rather than the other type of resource mailbox available, the equipment mailbox. To create a resource mailbox for equipment, the –Equipment parameter is used rather than the –Room parameter. For example, the following command can be used to create a resource mailbox for a projector that belongs in Conference Room B:

New-Mailbox -Name 'Projector Room B' -Alias 'ProjRoomB' -UserPrincipalName 'ProjRoomB@neilhobson.com' -FirstName 'Projector' -LastName 'Room B' -Equipment

If the list of mailboxes is now displayed in the Exchange Management Console, it can be seen that the room and equipment resource mailboxes have different icons and recipient type details as can be seen in Figure 5.


Figure 5: Room and Equipment Resource Mailboxes

By using the –Room and –Equipment parameters of the New-Mailbox cmdlet, additional property tabs will be seen when bringing up the properties of a resource mailbox. Specifically, the Resource General, Resource Policy, Resource Information, Resource In-Policy Requests and Resource Out-of-Policy Requests tabs will be seen as shown in Figure 6.


Figure 6: The Resource Mailbox Tabs

Here is a brief description of the purpose of each of these tabs. Note that we’ll be looking deeper at these configuration elements as we go through this article series.

  • Resource General - This tab allows you to configure resource custom properties as well as the resource capacity value. Additionally, it is on this tab that you configure whether you enable the Resource Booking Attendant for this mailbox or not.
  • Resource Policy - The Resource Policy tab allows you to configure specific policies that apply to the resource mailbox, such as whether repeating meetings can be booked and the maximum duration of a meeting. Additionally, you can configure resource mailbox delegates from this tab.
  • Resource Information - This tab controls the meeting information that is available in the resource mailbox’s calendar, such as attachments, comments, subject and so on. It also allows for the configuration of additional text sent to the meeting organizer.
  • Resource In-Policy Requests - Here you can configure those users who are allowed to submit in-policy meeting requests, which can be either automatically approved or approved by a resource mailbox delegate.
  • Resource Out-of-Policy Requests - This tab allows you to configure those users who are allowed to submit out-of-policy meeting requests which need to be approved by a resource mailbox delegate.

Summary

It’s time to finish part one of this article series now. So far we’ve seen how to create resource mailboxes using both the Exchange Management Console and the Exchange Management Shell. We’ve then seen that these resource mailboxes have 5 different configuration tabs and we will start exploring those tabs in part two of this article series.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

The Author — Neil Hobson

Neil Hobson avatar

Neil is a UK-based consultant responsible for the design, implementation and support of Microsoft infrastructure systems, most notably Microsoft Exchange systems. He has been in the IT industry since 1987 and has worked with Exchange since 1996. He was an Exchange MVP from 2003 to 2010 and still spends some of his spare time helping others in various Exchange online forums.

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