Resource Mailboxes in Exchange 2010 (Part 3)

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

Introduction

Welcome to part three of this multi-part article on the resource mailbox feature in Exchange 2010. So far in this series we have looked at creating resource mailboxes as well as defining custom properties such as whiteboards and projectors that can be used to further enhance the resource mailbox features. We finished part two of this series by looking at configuring delegates to manually control the booking of resource mailboxes. Although manual control of meeting requests is fine, many organizations choose to deploy an automated configuration whereby the system can process meeting requests automatically based on many different configuration options. This is controlled by the Resource Booking Attendant and that’s what we’ll start covering here in part three.

Resource Booking Attendant

Having human intervention is obviously fine if you have delegates that are willing and able to perform all of the required work associated with resource mailboxes. However, Exchange also offers the ability to automate some of the resource booking process. For example, what if you desired a configuration where senior management could always automatically book a meeting room without requiring the approval via a delegate?

That’s where the Resource Booking Attendant comes in. With that in mind, let’s now enable the Resource Booking Attendant for a room resource mailbox and automate the conference room bookings; this is performed on the Resource General tab of the resource mailbox properties. Note that the highlighted area in Figure 18 also includes the text that explains that the resource booking settings are only effective when the Enable the Resource Booking Attendant check box has been selected. These resource booking settings are those found on the Resource In-Policy Requests, Resource Out-of-Policy Requests and Resource Policy tabs as we shall see later in this article.


Figure 18: Enabling the Resource Booking Attendant

To enable the Resource Booking Attendant using the Exchange Management Shell, use the Set-CalendarProcessing cmdlet and specify a value of AutoAccept for the AutomateProcessing parameter. For example, to configure Conference Room A such that the Resource Booking Attendant is enabled, the following command will be used:

Set-CalendarProcessing –Identity ConfRoomA –AutomateProcessing AutoAccept

In this example, the AutomateProcessing parameter is set to AutoAccept; the default setting is AutoUpdate, whilst the other available option is None. The setting of AutoUpdate means that the Calendar Attendant is used on the resource mailbox, which itself means that new meeting requests will be marked as tentative on the resource mailbox calendar.

Resource Policy

When examining the properties of a resource mailbox in the Exchange Management Console, you will see tabs labeled Resource In-Policy Requests and Resource Out-of-Policy Requests. Before we get into the specifics of discussing the configuration of both of these tabs, you might be wondering exactly what in-policy and out-of-policy requests actually are, so we shall discuss these now. To understand in-policy and out-of-policy requests, it is useful to examine the contents of the Resource Policy tab on a resource mailbox’s properties. The Resource Policy tab for the resource mailbox called Conference Room C is shown in Figure 19. In fact, you might remember that this tab was shown in Figure 14 in part 2 of this article series when we were discussing how to configure delegates for the resource mailbox. Note that the values shown in Figure 19 are the default values assigned when a resource room mailbox is first created.


Figure 19: Resource Policy Tab Default Settings

The Resource Policy tab allows you to configure various settings that control whether or not certain users are allowed to automatically book meetings based on the characteristics of the meeting request itself.

Many of the settings that you can see in Figure 19 should be self-explanatory from the descriptions. For example, the Allow conflicting meeting requests option means exactly that. If you allow conflicting meetings, any conflicting meeting requests will be accepted by the resource mailbox and it will be up to the meeting organizers to work things out. The Booking windows (days) option covers how far in advance users can book this meeting room and as you can see the default setting is 180 days which is approximately 6 months. If you want to effectively disable any advance booking restrictions, simply set this value to 0. The Maximum duration (minutes) option covers how long the meeting request is allowed to last. As you can see, the default value for this option is 1440 minutes which equates to 1 day. This will probably suffice in the majority of situations for a room resource mailbox but should any of your users need to book the room resource for more than 1 day you will need to alter this value here. You can control the policy for conflicting meeting requests via the Maximum conflict instances and Conflict percentage allowed options.

All of the settings shown in Figure 19 can be set via the Set-CalendarProcessing cmdlet. Table 1 below shows the parameter names used in the Exchange Management Shell. I created this table by using one of the cool new features found in the Exchange Management Console in Exchange 2010. If you look back at Figure 19 you can see the “show Exchange Management Shell command” button in the bottom-left corner of the properties screen for Conference Room C. Clicking this button after making a change in the Exchange Management Console will show you the corresponding Exchange Management Shell command. An example is shown in Figure 20 where you can see the results of changing the Allow conflicting meeting requests option in the Exchange Management Console.


Figure 20: Showing the Exchange Management Shell Command Used

Configuration Name

Set-CalendarProcessing Parameter

Allow conflicting meeting requests

AllowConflicts

Allow repeating meetings

AllowRecurringMeetings

Allow scheduling only during working hours

ScheduleOnlyDuringWorkHours

Reject repeating meetings that have an end date beyond the booking window

EnforceSchedulingHorizon

Booking window (days)

BookingWindowInDays

Maximum duration (minutes)

MaximumDurationInMinutes

Maximum conflict instances

MaximumConflictInstances

Conflict percentage allowed

ConflictPercentageAllowed

Specify delegates of this mailbox

ResourceDelegates

Forward meeting requests to delegates

ForwardRequestsToDelegates

Table 1: Resource Policy Tab Cmdlet Parameters

Additionally these settings, together with some additional settings that will be covered later in this article, can be found within Outlook Web App (OWA) when accessing the resource mailbox. For example, look at Figure 21 where you can see the resource options for the Conference Room D resource mailbox. This particular page is accessed via the Exchange Control Panel (ECP) in OWA. Specifically, in OWA click Options then See All Options… which will take you to the ECP. Here click the Settings option on the left-hand side of the screen and you will be presented with the screen shown in Figure 21. Note that the Resource tab is only seen when a resource mailbox is accessed in OWA.


Figure 21: OWA Resource Tab

The settings shown in Figures 19 and 21 form the resource mailbox policy and therefore if a meeting request does not conflict with any of these settings, it is an in-policy meeting request. If a meeting request does conflict with any of these settings, it is an out-of-policy meeting request. You can control what happens to in-policy or out-of-policy meeting requests on a per-user basis by configuring the options on the Resource In-Policy Requests and Resource Out-of-Policy Requests tabs. We’ll be doing exactly that in the fourth and final part of this article series.

Summary

We’ve reached the end of part three of this article series on resource mailboxes in Exchange 2010, where we’ve covered the Resource Booking Attendant and resource policy options. In the last part of this article series we’ll see how the resource policy options affect the users and we’ll then finish up by looking at a new feature of Exchange 2010, namely room list distribution groups.

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

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