If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:
- Resource Mailboxes in Exchange 2010 (Part 1)
- Resource Mailboxes in Exchange 2010 (Part 3)
- Resource Mailboxes in Exchange 2010 (Part 4)
This is the second part of a multi-part article series focusing on resource mailboxes in Exchange 2010. In part one, we covered how to create resource mailboxes and here in part two we’ll start to delve deeper into how they work. Towards the end of part one, we briefly covered the new tabs that you will find when examining the properties of a resource mailbox. Let’s start part two by looking at one of the new features found on the Resource General tab of a resource mailbox. This feature is known as Resource Custom Properties.
Resource Custom Properties
On the Resource General tab within the properties of the resource mailbox, we’ll find the configuration option to configure resource custom properties. Suppose Conference Room A has a whiteboard but Conference Room B doesn’t. It will be extremely useful from a user’s perspective when booking a conference room to understand which of the two conference rooms has this feature. This can be achieved by defining resource custom properties and these can be added to the resource mailbox via the Resource General tab found in the properties of the resource mailbox. This is shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7: The Resource General Tab of Conference Room A
However, clicking the Add… button in Figure 7 to add resource custom properties will present the information text shown in Figure 8 if no resource custom properties have been defined. Of course, this is most likely on a brand new installation of Exchange 2010 since, as indicated in the text in Figure 8, the resource property schema has not been extended. The text also reveals that the resource property schema has to be extended via Exchange Management Shell commands.
Figure 8: Resource Custom Properties Information
This is where the Get-ResourceConfig and Set-ResourceConfig cmdlets can be used. The Get-ResourceConfig cmdlet is used to retrieve resource schema data from Active Directory and if you run this cmdlet within a new Active Directory and Exchange 2010 environment you’ll see that no additional resource properties have been defined as shown in Figure 9.
Figure 9: Results of the Get-ResourceConfig Cmdlet
To create a whiteboard resource custom property for resource mailboxes configured as room mailboxes, the Set-ResourceConfig cmdlet can be used as shown in the following example:
Set-ResourceConfig -ResourcePropertySchema “Room/Whiteboard”
We can now check that the schema data has been updated by re-running the Get-ResourceConfig cmdlet as you can see from Figure 10.
Figure 10: Checking the Room/Whiteboard Resource Custom Property
Once the Set-ResourceConfig cmdlet has been executed, return back to the screen shown previously in Figure 7 and once again click the Add… button. This time, the screen shown in Figure 11 will be presented which now allows for the whiteboard resource custom property to be added to the resource mailbox for Conference Room A.
Figure 11: Adding Whiteboard Resource Custom Property
For the actual resource room Active Directory objects and attributes are updated accordingly. For example, look at Figure 12 where you can see the properties of Conference Room A and Conference Room B as seen via ADSIEdit. I’ve filtered the view such that only those attributes that have a value are displayed. You can see that the highlighted attribute, msExchResourceDisplay, is updated with the whiteboard information for Conference Room A, whereas Conference Room B is not updated as this does not have the whiteboard facility.
Figure 12: Conference Room Mailbox Properties in ADSIEdit
For the end users, adding the whiteboard resource custom property means that the Description column in the address book is updated accordingly. For example, Figure 13 shows the All Rooms address book being viewed in Outlook 2010 and users can clearly see that Conference Room A has a whiteboard whilst Conference Room B does not. You may also notice the Capacity column in Figure 13, which is derived from the Resource capacity field that you saw earlier in this article in Figure 7.
Another important feature for the users when they are booking meeting rooms is to understand how many people the room can accommodate and this number can be tagged onto each room by entering the appropriate value into the Resource capacity field. You can also see this information in Figure 12 where the value of 25 has been assigned to the attribute named msExchResourceCapacity for Conference Room A.
Figure 13: Conference Rooms Viewed in the All Rooms Address Book
So you can see that creating resource mailboxes in Exchange 2010 means that the associated Active Directory accounts have specific attributes associated with them that relate to the function of a resource mailbox. Now that we have two conference room resource mailboxes created, let’s look at how users might go about using them.
Manual Request Responses
Back in Figure 7 you saw a check box to enable the Resource Booking Attendant which allows for the automatic processing of resource requests based on defined booking policies; we will look at booking policies later in this article series. Note that the Resource Booking Attendant is disabled by default as you saw in Figure 7, so let’s first discuss what this default behavior means for the users and administrators. It essentially means that a delegate user must manage this resource mailbox.
You will remember that we previously noted that the creation of a resource mailbox creates an associated Active Directory user account that is disabled by default, so clearly no-one is supposed to be logging onto Active Directory using this user account. It would therefore be typical to ensure that a nominated user has delegate access to this mailbox and for that user to manage the resource requests that come into the resource mailbox. This can be easily configured on the Resource Policy tab found in the properties of a resource mailbox in the Exchange Management Console, as you can see in Figure 14. Note the option to forward meeting requests to delegates, meaning that Sue will get copies of the meeting requests for Conference Room A in her own mailbox, thereby negating the need to open the Conference Room A mailbox as an additional mailbox in her Outlook profile.
Figure 14: Configuring a Resource Mailbox Delegate
It is also possible to set delegate access using the Exchange Management Shell via the Set-CalendarProcessing cmdlet. The specific parameter for this task is the ResourceDelegates parameter. Note that the ResourceDelegates parameter needs to be a list of delegates for the resource mailbox. In other words, consider the scenario where Sue is currently listed as a delegate as seen in Figure 14 and the following command is run to configure Sally as a resource delegate:
Set-CalendarProcessing –Identity ConfRoomA –ResourceDelegates Sally
In this example, Sue will be removed as a resource delegate and replaced by Sally. Therefore, to update the resource mailbox such that both Sue and Sally are listed as delegates, the following command would be required:
Set-CalendarProcessing –Identity ConfRoomA –ResourceDelegates Sue,Sally
In the two preceding examples, I elected to use the alias field to identify my resource delegates as “Sue” and “Sally”. However, the ResourceDelegates parameter can use other formats such as the distinguished name, display name, primary SMTP address and so on.
If someone such as an administrator already has full mailbox access to the resource mailbox, it is possible to use Outlook to configure delegate access in the normal way. For example, in Outlook the administrator can click the File menu option, then the Account Settings button and finally the Delegate Access option which will bring them to the screen shown in Figure 15. However, it is probably better to use the Exchange Management Console or the Exchange Management Shell as you’ve seen earlier in this article, particularly where full mailbox access to the resource mailbox has not been granted to the administrator.
Figure 15: Configuring Resource Mailbox Delegates within Outlook
In Figure 16 you can see that Sue has been configured as a delegate and has received the meeting requests intended for Conference Room A directly in her mailbox.
Figure 16: Delegate Receiving Meeting Requests
Sue must manually approve this conference room booking by taking into consideration facts such as the person who made the request, whether the room is free or already booked, and so on. If the meeting is approved by the resource mailbox delegate, the meeting organizer receives notification, which can be customized by the delegate as you can see from Figure 17.
Figure 17: Manually Accepted Meeting Response
Here in part two of this article series we’ve looked at creating resource custom properties so that we can identify not only things like the number of people that a meeting room can hold, but also whether that resource mailbox holds additional items such as whiteboards, projectors and so on. We then looked at configuring a delegate for the resource mailbox and how meeting requests can be processed manually, but of course the real power for resource mailboxes comes via the Resource Booking Attendant which we will be looking at in the next part of this article series.
If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to: