Resource Mailboxes in Exchange 2010 (Part 4)

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

Introduction

This is the final part in this article series looking at resource mailboxes in Exchange 2010. In this final part we’ll look at how our resource policies affect the users as they attempt to book a conference room resource mailbox. We will finish up by looking at a new feature of Exchange 2010 called room list distribution groups, which exist to make life easier for your users when they are booking resources.

How Resource Policies Affect Users

By default, all users can submit in-policy meeting requests as you can see from Figure 22. You will also see that by default no users are configured to require their in-policy meeting requests to be approved by a delegate. On the Resource Out-of-Policy tab, the default setting is that no users are configured to be allowed to submit out-of-policy meeting requests that require approval by a delegate.


Figure 22: In-Policy Requests Default Settings

Let’s now look at how these settings affect the user experience, starting with the in-policy meeting requests. Take the scenario shown in Figure 23 where Neil’s in-policy meeting requests are automatically approved but John’s in-policy meeting requests have to be approved by a delegate.


Figure 23: Configuring In-Policy Requests

If Neil now books this room resource mailbox, he receives an automatically generated acceptance notification since he is allowed to automatically book this meeting room. You can see the results of this action in Figure 24. Note, that OWA has been used in this example.


Figure 24: Automatically Accepted Meeting Request

However, if John books this same room resource mailbox, he will receive a tentative response indicating that his meeting request was received by the room resource mailbox, but is pending approval. This message is shown in Figure 25.


Figure 25: Meeting Request Pending Approval

The room resource mailbox delegate will receive John’s meeting request and will therefore have to decide whether or not John is allowed to book the resource. In this particular case, Sally is configured as the room resource mailbox delegate and you can see the meeting request approval message in Sally’s Outlook 2010 inbox in Figure 26.


Figure 26: Delegate Approval Process

Had John not been configured to have his meeting requests send to the delegate, he would have received a declined meeting request response from the room resource mailbox since he would not have permissions to book this particular room resource.

To configure the in-policy requests that you saw in Figure 23 using the Exchange Management Shell, use the BookInPolicy and AllBookInPolicy parameters of the Set-CalendarProcessing cmdlet. If you want all users who submit in-policy meeting requests to have those meeting requests automatically approved, set the AllBookInPolicy parameter to true. Conversely, to select a specific set of users who require automatic approval, set the AllBookInPolicy parameter to false and then specify a list of users for the BookInPolicy parameter.

The same principles apply for the settings that control whether in-policy meeting requests require approval by the resource mailbox delegate, although this time the two parameters are RequestInPolicy and AllRequestInPolicy.

Even though users may be configured to automatically book in-policy meeting requests, or perhaps have their meeting requests approved by resource mailbox delegates, this does not necessarily mean that they are allowed to submit out-of-policy meeting requests. As we discussed earlier in this article, no users are allowed to submit out-of-policy meeting requests by default. Let’s take the maximum meeting time as an example, which you may remember is set to 1 day by default.

Even though a user may be allowed to automatically book in-policy meeting requests, Figure 27 shows what happens if that user attempts to book a meeting that lasts longer than 1 day and thus is classed as an out-of-policy meeting request.


Figure 27: Declined Out-of-Policy Request

In Figure 27 you can clearly see that the meeting request was declined since the meeting request exceeded the overall duration limit of 1440 minutes, or 1 day. By adding the user to the configuration in the Resource Out-of-Policy Requests tab, out-of-policy requests such as this would be sent to the resource mailbox delegate for approval rather than being declined outright by the Resource Booking Attendant.

Resource Information

There is one final tab on the properties of a resource mailbox that we have yet to look at, and that is the Resource Information tab. This particular tab is shown in Figure 28, where you can see that many of the configurable options are self-explanatory. Setting these options will allow you to control the functionality and security of the resource mailbox. For example, users quite often include attachments in meeting requests and these can add to the overall mailbox size for the resource mailbox. Therefore, having an automated way to remove these attachments will help control the mailbox size and this is what the Delete attachments option can be used for.


Figure 28: The Resource Information Tab Settings

One interesting configuration option that you may have noticed from Figure 28 is the additional text that you can add to “customize the response message that the meeting organizer will receive”. This text is added to all meeting responses and an example of how this text is seen within a meeting response is shown below in Figure 29.


Figure 29: Customized Text Example

As we’ve seen throughout this article series, the various configuration elements of a resource mailbox can be managed in the Exchange Management Shell via the Set-CalendarProcessing cmdlet and the options shown in Figure 28 are no different.

Table 2 below shows the parameter names used in the Exchange Management Shell. As per Table 1 in part three of this article series, I created this table by examining the Exchange Management Shell command produced as a result of setting the options within the Exchange Management Console.

Configuration Name

Set-CalendarProcessing Parameter

Delete attachments

DeleteAttachments

Delete comments

DeleteComments

Delete the subject

DeleteSubject

Delete non-calendar items

DeleteNonCalendarItems

Add the organizer’s name to the subject

AddOrganizerToSubject

Remove the private flag on an accepted meeting

RemovePrivateProperty

Send organizer information when a meeting request is declined because of conflicts

OrganizerInfo

Add additional text

AddAdditionalResponse

Additional text

AdditionalResponse

Mark pending requests as Tentative on the calendar

TentativePendingApproval

Table 2: Exchange Management Shell Parameters for the Resource Information Tab

Room List Distribution Groups

Exchange 2010 includes a fantastic new feature called room list distribution groups. This feature is designed to help the user in scenarios where the calendars of multiple resource mailboxes must be examined when attempting to find a vacant slot in a resource mailbox calendar. To make finding this vacant slot much easier, room list distribution groups can be created. Unfortunately it’s not possible to use the Exchange Management Console to create a room list distribution group; you have to use the Exchange Management Shell. The cmdlet to use is the New-DistributionGroup cmdlet just as you would when creating a new ordinary distribution group. However, with room list distribution groups the key thing to remember is to include the RoomList parameter when using the New-DistributionGroup cmdlet.

For example, to create a room list distribution group called “Meeting Rooms” that comprises the resource mailboxes for Conference Room A, Conference Room B, Conference Room C and Conference Room D the following command can be used:

New-DistributionGroup –Name “Meeting Rooms” –Members ConfRoomA,ConfRoomB,ConfRoomC,ConfRoomD –RoomList

Figure 30 shows an extract of the Exchange Management Console after the room list distribution group has been created.


Figure 30: New Room List Distribution Group

Once the room list distribution group has been created it is available for users to select when composing a new meeting request in Outlook. In Figure 31, you can see the Show a room list option as highlighted within the red box. The user can select the room list distribution group from a drop-down list and when this is done, the resource mailboxes that are members of this room list distribution group are populated within the calendar scheduling assistant as resource mailboxes.

Immediately below the room list drop-down box you will note the Choose an available room selection area which has been highlighted in the blue box. This area contains suitable resource mailbox choices from the room list distribution group based on the availability of those resources. As you can see from Figure 31, Conference Room D is not available at the chosen meeting time which means it is not available as a selection in the Choose an available room selection area of the screen.


Figure 31: Room List Distribution Groups in Outlook

Summary

We have reached the end of this article series on resource mailboxes in Exchange 2010. There is no doubt that this type of mailbox is extremely beneficial to almost all organizations that run Exchange and the functionality provided out of the box has got progressively better with each release of Exchange.

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

2 thoughts on “Resource Mailboxes in Exchange 2010 (Part 4)”

  1. Great article(s), easy to follow and understand. Might I suggest an addition for the regen of the Global Address List which takes place overnight or every 8 hours. I was confused when I could not see or use the created room until I dug deeper and found out you can wait the 8 hrs., overnight during maintenance, or force it which was too much to do for instant gratification for it to show up.
    Thanks for your efforts…

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