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Exchange Server 2007 for Exchange 2003 Admins, Part 2

More new features to explore

Executive Summary:
Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 has new management tools that replace the familiar Exchange System Manager (ESM). Learn how to use Exchange Management Console to perform Exchange 2007 administration tasks such as viewing mailboxes and filtering recipient lists, creating storage groups, and managing public folders.

In "Exchange Server 2007 for Exchange 2003 Admins, Part 1," May 2008 InstantDoc ID 98698), I explained that Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 uses completely different management tools than Exchange Server 2003 did, which means the techniques for performing even the most basic administrative functions have changed completely. I also demonstrated how to perform various common administrative tasks using the new management tools. In this article, I show you more of these new techniques, such as viewing mailboxes, filtering recipient lists, and more.

As I discussed in part 1 of this series, Exchange Management Console (EMC) was built on top of Exchange Management Shell (EMS), and any action you can perform through the EMC GUI you can also perform from the command line. However, although the command shell is more powerful and more flexible than the GUI, the commands themselves can be long, complicated, and difficult to remember if you’re just getting used to the new version of Exchange. To keep things simple, I stick to using the GUI for the remainder of this article series.

Filtering the Recipient List
In part 1, I showed you the different types of mailboxes you can create using Exchange 2007. You might notice that all the mailboxes are listed in one place in Exchange 2007. In Exchange 2003, however, recipients are listed by store. To see a list of all mailboxes in a particular store in Exchange 2003 or earlier, you navigate through Exchange System Manager (ESM) to Administrative Groups, your administrative group, Servers, your server, First Storage Group, Mailbox Store, Mailboxes.

When you first move to Exchange 2007, it can be really disorienting to have all the mailboxes listed in one place. This layout isn't much of a problem in smaller organizations, but it can quickly turn into a nuisance in larger organizations with many mailboxes. Fortunately, Exchange 2007 lets you filter the recipient list so that you can view the mailboxes within a specific store. To do so, open EMC and navigate through the console tree to Recipient Configuration, Mailbox. When you do, the details pane displays every mailbox in the entire Exchange organization.

To see how the filtering process works, click the Create Filter icon, as Figure 1 shows. You might see a message indicating that various mailboxes have been corrupted and are in an inconsistent state. Although I haven’t seen any official Microsoft documentation about this error message, in my experience, the error message is bogus; it will appear for any mailbox that resides on a legacy Exchange server. Click OK to clear the error message. You can now use the various drop-down lists at the top of the details pane to build your filter. You can filter by any of several different criteria, but for now let's look at how to filter by server.

The actual mechanics of the filter are fairly simple. The first drop-down list contains an attribute, and the second drop-down list contains an action. There’s also a field where you can enter a value. Therefore, if you wanted to filter the list of recipients by server, you’d choose Server from the first drop-down list, then choose Equals from the second drop-down list. You’d then enter the server name in the text box and click Apply Filter to see the results of the filter that you created, as Figure 2 shows.

Also in Figure 2, note the Add Expression icon. You can use this icon to build filters that include multiple criteria. By creating a multi-tiered filter, you can drill down and create very specific recipient lists. Clicking the Remove Filter icon returns you to the unabridged list of mailboxes residing in your organization.

Creating Storage Groups and Stores
When you install Exchange 2007 with the Mailbox server role, Setup automatically creates one storage group (SG) and one mailbox store. Although this number might be sufficient for smaller organizations, larger organizations typically need to create additional SGs or stores. Even smaller organizations might find themselves needing a public folder store.  Exchange Server 2007 Enterprise Edition lets you create up to 50 storage groups, and up to 50 stores. Although a single store group can handle multiple stores, it is usually advisable to maintain a one to one ration of storage groups to stores.

SGs and stores reside at the server level, just as they did in Exchange 2003. To see the SGs on a server, navigate through EMC to Server Configuration, Mailbox. You’ll see a screen similar to the one that Figure 3 shows. The top half of the screen lists servers that host the Mailbox role. Only Exchange 2007 servers are included on this list. In my own organization, the majority of my mailboxes reside on an Exchange 2003 server, but the list doesn't show that server. Microsoft lists only Exchange 2007 servers to prevent you from using EMC to create or remove stores or SGs on servers running legacy versions of Exchange.

To create a new SG, first select the server that you want to create a new SG on, then click the New Storage Group link in the Actions pane. At this point, Exchange displays the New Storage Group dialog box. Simply enter a name for the new SG, and Exchange will automatically fill in proposed paths for the system files and log files associated with the SG that you’re creating. As Figure 4 shows, the New Storage Group dialog box also gives you the option of enabling local continuous replication (LCR), a new Exchange 2007 functionality that lets you automatically copy transaction logs as they’re completed. Because transaction logs exist at the SG level, you can only enable or disable LCR on a per-SG basis. Click the New button to create the new SG. When the process is done, click Finish.

Now let's create a new store. For the record, you don’t have to create a new SG to house a new store. An SG can accommodate multiple stores, but since I just created this SG, we might as well use it. In Figure 3, note that the lower portion of the console's center column displays the SGs residing on the server and lists each store within the SGs. To create a new store, you must first select the SG in which to place it.

Next, decide what type of store you want to create. You have the option of creating either a mailbox store or a public folder store. The procedures for creating the two types of store are nearly identical. Even so, a public folder store cannot contain mailboxes, and a mailbox store cannot contain public folder data, so you need to decide now what type of store to create. I discuss public folders later in this article, so let's create a public folder store.

Click the New Public Folder Data link in the Actions pane to see the New Public Folder Database dialog box. The only information you have to enter is the name of the new store. Exchange will automatically fill in the database path, although you have the option of specifying a custom path. This dialog box also contains a check box (selected by default) that you can use to cause the database to be mounted as soon as it’s created.

Once you enter a name for the new database and confirm the database path, click the New button to create the database. When the process is done, click Finish to display the new database under its SG, as Figure 5 shows.

Working with Public Folders
When Exchange 2007 was being developed, Internet message boards were filled with rumors that Microsoft would no longer support public folders. The good news is that these rumors aren’t true. Public folders are a fully supported feature of Exchange 2007. However, Microsoft has hinted that it might drop public folders in a future version of Exchange and that SharePoint could end up being the preferred mechanism for storing data that traditionally would have resided in a public folder.

One of the things that led to speculation that public folders were being dropped in Exchange 2007 was the fact that the EMC didn't provide any public folder–management capabilities in the Exchange 2007 beta version. Even when Exchange 2007 was finally released, EMC offered hardly any public folder support. However, the release to manufacturing (RTM) version of Exchange 2007 lets you perform public folder–management tasks, albeit mostly through EMS. Exchange 2007 SP1 provides greatly enhanced support for managing public folders through EMC.

If you aren’t yet using Exchange 2007 SP1, you can perform a couple of minor public folder–management tasks through EMC, but for most public folder administration tasks, you’ll need to use EMS. In SP1, Microsoft added an icon for the public folder–management tool to the Toolbox in EMC. Double-click this icon to launch the Public Folder Management Console (PFMC), which Figure 6 shows.

Several things in Figure 6 are worth noting. First, look at the top-level folder in the console tree. This folder corresponds to a specific server. Sometimes when you open PFMC, it fails to automatically connect to a server. When this happens, you can use the Connect to Server link in the Actions pane to connect to your chosen server. Second, notice that the screen doesn’t initially list any individual public folder stores. Instead, it presents the folders on the server as a whole.

You might also have noticed that there are separate trees for default public folders and system public folders. Normally, any public folders you create are placed in the Default Public Folders tree. Exchange also create several public folders (e.g., for the Offline Address Book) of its own and places them into the System Public Folders tree. Unfortunately, the system public folders can make it difficult to remove a public folder store from the system. I’ll show you how to deal with this issue in the next article in this series.

For now, let's go ahead and create a public folder. Select the Default Public Folders container and click the New Public Folder link in the Actions pane. Doing so displays the New Public Folder dialog box. The only piece of information that you have to enter in this dialog box is the folder name; however, you have the option of specifying the folder's location within the public folder hierarchy. In this case, specifying a folder's position within the hierarchy isn't really an option because this is the first public folder in the public folder tree (other than system folders).

After entering the folder name, click the New button to create the folder. When the process is done, click Finish to see the newly created folder listed within the public folder hierarchy (Figure 7).

One last trick that I want to show you is how to mail-enable a public folder. To do so, select the public folder that you just created and click the Mail Enable link in the Actions pane. When you click this link, nothing appears to happen at first. If you look closely though, you’ll notice that the Mail Enable link changes to say Mail Disable. The folder’s email address will be automatically assigned according to your server’s existing recipient policies, but you can view or change the folder’s email address through the E-Mail Addresses tab on the folder’s properties sheet.

In Part 3, I’ll continue our discussion of Exchange 2007 features by showing you how remove a public folder store, set mailbox limits, and move mailboxes.

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