Exchange Resource Mailboxes

Microsoft have long been threatening to remove Public Folders from Exchange and have been deprecating their use with every iteration of the product. Typically, here at Newcastle University, users have requested Public Folders to keep calendars of meeting rooms. Although the Public Folders are easy to set up and manage, they don’t really work too well. Checking availability and the logistics of organising the time with the Public Folder calendar alongside personal calendars is often a complicated and laborious affair.

Using Outlook 2007 and Exchange 2007, the creation of dedicated Resource Mailboxes became a much simpler process and more user friendly. To fall in line with Microsoft’s deprecation of Public Folders, we are keen to have people to move their Public Folder calendars into Resource Mailboxes. The set-up and maintenance of the Resource Mailboxes is best suited to a School Computing Officer or if not available a dedicated super-user.

The resource mailbox is very similar to a standard mailbox however does include some extra options to allow for automated responses and resource dedicated configuration.

Although the Resource Mailboxes still work with Outlook 2003, the checking of availability and the manner in which to find the resource mailboxes is slightly more complicated.

I’ve recently drawn up some documentation for Computing Officers with regards to the configuration of Resource Mailboxes and also for end-users for how you would use them in daily operation.

Resource Mailbox Configuration

Using Resource Mailboxes

We’ve been using Resource Mailboxes internally within ISS for a little while now and have also introduced the service for the Student Interaction element of King’s Gate and parts of the Robinson Library. It is to note that this system is not a competitor for Syllabus Plus and our in-house timetabling services, but to be used as a supplement so that users can organise small meetings within their school/service.

7 thoughts on “Exchange Resource Mailboxes

  1. If Public Folders are being ‘phased out’ (although I’m running Office 2010 and they’re still in that) what’s the preferred route for other shared/public items such as distribution lists ?
    It looks like Resource mailboxes aren’t the way to do that, but maybe I’m wrong ?

  2. Chris,

    The ISS recommended solution for distribution lists is our dedicated service at Outlook has always been a bit flaky with distribution lists, particularly with inbuilt system limits hampering large lists.

    Microsoft are very keen to push the main sharing mechanism for all other shared items to SharePoint. That doesn’t really help us too much at the University, but we need to prepare for the day that Public Folders have been removed.

    The final method is to have a dedicated role account that has a mailbox. I would suggest only using this if resource mailboxes and don’t cover the bases.

  3. I realise th reccomended method of group list is to use the lists service to duplicate that function. However does this mean that public folders will not be installed as an option of exchange 2010 in the university? Or will it continue through one more round of exchange?

    dennis bates

  4. Hi Dennis,

    Ever since Exchange 2003, Microsoft have been threatening to remove Public Folders in their next version. They are still there in Exchange 2010, but a lot of their use has been deprecated, particularly from the server administration side and also their exclusion from some of Exchange’s clustering technologies (CCR and DAG).

    Ideally, I would like to try and scale back our use of Public Folders, but I appreciate it’s going to be an arduous task. I think we have to be conscious of the fact that they may be removed in the version after 2010 and try to minimize the heartache that might cause.

  5. Sorry John wasn’t quite my question. I know they are still there in exchange 2010 but have to be “enabled” and aren’t part of the box standard installation.

    Are we as a university going to tick that box to install public folders or are we going to leave it as a standard install with public folders turned off. I’m not bothered either way. but if they are to be not turned on I need to plan the migration to lists and calendars to our sharepoint site.

    thanks dennis

  6. We’ll be ticking the box to enable them. They also control free-busy information, offline address book distribution and the like for folk still using Outlook 2003.

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