Exchange Management Console: New features in Exchange Server 2010

Introduction

Exchange Server 2010 brought a lot of new features on in its architecture, functionalities and capabilities. In this article we will see what has been improved for the daily administrative tasks using the Exchange Management Console.

Exchange Server 2010 Console and the dynamic content on the Internet

In Exchange Server 2007 all Console content was static with a few links to the outside world. Now, we have several items going to the internet and interacting with the Administrator.

Do you want to know what is going on with Exchange Server from the team? Not a problem, just click on the first item on the left (Microsoft Exchange) and then click on Community Resources tab, where you will be taken to this page (Figure 01). You are always one click away to read the latest news from the comfort of your console. By the way, the Exchange Team is always blogging about cool stuff, new software releases, new tools and sometimes they give away some gifts!


Figure 01

The second stop of our tour is on the last item of the left column: Toolbox. As an Exchange Administrator you will notice that we have a bunch of cool features on the Internet. Here are a couple of tools that are web based:

  • Remote Connectivity Analyzer – Forget it to ask a friend to test your certificates, autodiscover and all that stuff. Now, the tool was released officially and you can use it at any time!
  • Message Tracking – The new version uses ECP (Exchange Control Panel) to track messages
  • Role Based Access Control (RBAC) User Editor – Another innovation on this version is the RBAC where we can have more granular control of the permissions


Exchange Management Shell Command Log

We can track all steps performed in a Console session and afterwards export it to a file. You can do all this by just clicking on; View – View Exchange Management Shell Command Log… item.

The tool by itself does not do anything as such. The administrator has to log all commands of the session. To do that, click on the Action menu and then click on Start Command Logging, as show in Figure 02.


Figure 02

You can now start playing around on your Exchange Management Console, in our example here I changed some attributes of my mailbox, tried to create a duplicate contact name and I also created a new contact. After that, I went back to the feature and we can see that all tasks that I have done so far are being listed (Figure 03).


Figure 03

Bear in mind that the logging will be active until your Exchange Management Console is open, if you close and open it again the list will be empty however the log still enabled.

To disable the logging, just click on Action and then Stop Command Logging. If you are a consultant or need to send a log of everything that you have done, you do not need to use your memory any more! Just enable it before your session make the changes and send the log to your customer.

By the way, to export the content just click on Action and then Export List…

Using Show Exchange Management Shell command feature…

The previous feature is fantastic however if you want to know just a single attribute name, or cmdlet to use afterwards in a script, then you have to use the Show Exchange Management Shell command feature.

Every dialog that we open on Exchange Server 2010 has a PowerShell icon on the lower-left corner and if you do not change anything the icon will be grayed out. However, if you change any setting from that dialog you will see that the icon will be enabled. The trigger to enable the PowerShell icon is any action that will perform a change using PowerShell (the most common verb is “Set”).

In order to demonstrate the functionality, I opened the properties of a regular user and I disabled its Outlook Web App (Figure 04) access. We can now click on the icon and see which command in  the background will be run when we hit either Apply or OK (Figure 05)


Figure 04


Figure 05

The dialog box that is opened through that feature is read-only. This feature is really useful when we are trying to build scripts and we need to find out the parameter and/or cmdlet that is going to be used.

Managing Diagnostics Logging

Last year I wrote about debugging in Exchange Server 2007 and if you had a chance to read that article you may have notice that everything is based on Exchange Management Shell.

If you are a happy Exchange Server 2010 administrator you can save your time typing cmdlets like Set-EventLogLevel and Get-EventLogLevel because the new version comes with an interface to manage the Diagnostic Logging.

When we click on any server name under Server Configuration item on the left of the console, we will see an item on the Toolbox Action called Manage Diagnostic Logging Properties. Just click on it and we will have a list of all processes and the level of logging that we may be enabling (Figure 06). There is also the option Reset all services to default logging levels which will bring all services to the default values, this a good option to be used after finishing a troubleshooting process.


Figure 06

Retrieving Organization information

In case you need to get information about your organization Users we can use the Organizational Health feature that can be accessed by clicking on Microsoft Exchange On-Premises item and then on the first tab (Organizational Health), as shown in Figure 07.

We will be given a summary of the Exchange Organization, Servers and Recipients and also on the last line of that page we are informed of when the last update took place.


Figure 07

If you want to update the current information just click on Collect Organizational Health Data… on the Toolbox Actions and a wizard will appear (Figure 08) just follow it using the default values and you will see a report with the latest information from you organization.


Figure 08

Managing Customer Feedback Options

If you have a single server the Customer Feedback is not a big deal however if you have a couple or more servers, then managing it from a central location makes more sense.

If you want to do server by server, just right click on the Server properties underneath of Server Configuration item and you can decide if you want to join the Customer Feedback program, as show in Figure 09.


Figure 09

In order to manage more than one server, just click on Microsoft Exchange on-premises item and then click on Customer Feedback tab, and then click on Customer Experience Improvement Program link, and the wizard shown in the Figure 10 will be displayed.


Figure 10

If we select the first option (Join the Exchange Customer Experience Improvement Program) and manage the servers (removing or adding) and click on Apply, all servers will receive the defined configuration. We can also click on the second option which is I don’t want to join the program at this time and all servers will be configured to not participate in the program and the tab Customer Feedback Options will be removed from all Server’s properties.

Conclusion

In this article we saw just a sneak peek of the new features introduced in the Exchange Console. There is no way to show all of them in a single article and some of them require a couple of articles to be explained, for that reason we went over only these new features. Here are some of the extra features that we have not seen on this article and they will definitely be a subject for future articles here at MSExchange.org:

  • Outlook Web App Mailbox policies
  • Database Management at Organization level
  • Sharing Policies
  • Managing certificates using the console
  • Move Request
  • Federation Trust
  • Organization relationship
  • Adding Exchange Forest

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