Exchange admins have been creating dedicated mailboxes to represent conference rooms for years. In previous versions of Exchange Server, administrators created standard mailboxes and assigned delegates to manage meeting requests. In exchange server 2010 resource mailbox management includes new functions that make life easier for admins and end users alike.
Creating room mailboxes in Exchange Server 2010
Mailbox creation is generally accomplished via the Exchange Management Console (EMC). Administrators get several options after they launch the EMC. The two available resource mailbox types are Room and Equipment.
Navigate through the new mailbox wizard in the EMC and you’ll notice that it is not necessary to have a password to create a resource. This is because newly created resource mailboxes are associated with a disabled Active Directory user. Remember, Exchange 2010 resource mailboxes are not interactive; think of them as service accounts.
After creating a room, look at its properties in the EMC. You’ll find several tabs that start with the word “Resource.” You may not need to change the default settings, but pay attention to the resource policy options. You can allow or disallow recurring meetings, set the maximum length of a meeting or even restrict how far in the future you can book meetings.
Automatically accepting or declining Exchange 2010 meeting requests
Exchange Server 2010 resource mailbox management includes a calendar attendant that can automatically accept or decline meeting requests. This saves admins from assigning delegates to manage meeting requests — although that’s still an option. Meeting requests fall into two categories: in-policy or out-of-policy. If a resource request doesn’t violate the in-policy options, the meeting is automatically accepted. If the request is out-of-policy, it is automatically declined. These policies are generally used to ensure that overlapping meetings are not scheduled for the same resource. It is also possible to customize settings in the room mailbox’s properties tab.
Admins can also customize who can automatically book meetings or who is subject to approval by a delegate. Just use the in-policy request option for the Exchange 2010 resource mailbox.
Customizing automated Exchange 2010 meeting responses
Admins can also add custom text to meeting responses (the calendar attendant must be enabled). Not all conference rooms are equal; some include projectors, whiteboards and so on. Admins can add custom properties that represent these items to their Exchange 2010 organizations. They can also selectively add those properties to resource mailboxes as needed. The caveat here is that you can only add custom properties from the EMS.
Simplify searches using the Outlook 2010 room finder feature
If your company is geographically dispersed, you can group room mailboxes into “room lists.” A room list is a distribution group that contains one or more room mailboxes. Outlook 2010 includes a room finder feature that helps users locate a room in a specific building or physical location. Room lists must be created from the EMS.