How to Create and configure a meeting room mailbox with Exchange Server 2007



On a recent project I had to consider how to implement meeting rooms in Exchange 2007 SP1.  I read all of the available TechNet articles and posts and then I realized that it was not necessarily easy to set up meeting rooms with correct policies on the first try. So, I made a synthesis on how to quickly create the meeting room of your dreams, in hopes that this can help you.


Resource Mailbox Overview


Resource mailboxes are specific types of mailboxes that can represent meeting rooms or shared equipment and can be included as resources in meeting requests. The Active Directory user that is associated with a resource mailbox is a disabled account. The different types of resource mailboxes in Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 are:


  • Room mailbox: a resource mailbox that is assigned to a meeting location, such as a conference room, auditorium, or training room. Room mailboxes can be included as resources in meeting requests.
  • Equipment mailbox: a resource mailbox that is assigned to a non-location specific resource, such as a portable computer projector, microphone, or a company car. Equipment mailboxes can be included as resources in meeting requests.
  • Shared mailbox: a mailbox that is not primarily associated with a single user and is generally configured to allow logon access for multiple users. After a shared mailbox is created (by using the Exchange Management Shell), you must grant permissions to all users that require access to the shared mailbox. Even if this is not a resource mailbox, I mention it here because companies commonly use that kind of mailbox for collaboration or business needs.

Example 1: How to create a resource mailbox






Create a Room mailbox:

New-Mailbox -database “Storage Group 1\Mailbox Database 1” -Name ConfRoom1 -OrganizationalUnit “Conference Rooms” -DisplayName “ConfRoom1” -UserPrincipalName ConfRoom1@contoso.com -Room


Create an Equipment mailbox:

New-Mailbox -database “First Storage Group\Mailbox Database” -Name VCR1 -OrganizationalUnit Equipment -DisplayName “VCR1” – UserPrincipalName VCR1@contoso.com -Equipment


Create a Shared mailbox:

New-Mailbox -database “Storage Group 1\Mailbox Database 1” -Name SharedMailbox01 -OrganizationalUnit “Resource Mailboxes” -DisplayName “SharedMailbox01” -UserPrincipalName SharedMailbox01@contoso.com -Shared


(from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb201680.aspx)


Resource Mailbox Properties


You can configure resource mailbox properties for resource mailboxes. For example, you can use the ResourceCapacity, Office, and ResourceCustom parameters with the Set-Mailbox cmdlet to configure some of these settings.

Custom resource properties can help users select the most appropriate room or equipment by providing additional information about the resource. For example, you can create a custom property for room mailboxes called AV. You can add this property to all rooms that have audio-visual equipment. This allows users to identify which conference rooms have audio-visual equipment available. A custom resource cannot contain a value; it’s only a flag that can be added to a resource mailbox, flags are defined globally for the Exchange organization.

Before you can assign custom resource properties to a room or equipment mailbox, you must first create these properties by modifying the resource configuration of your Exchange organization. Custom resource can be added with the Set-ResourceConfig cmdlet.

Note:



  • All entries provided to the Set-ResourceConfig cmd-let must start with either Room/ or Equipment/. Setting a new entry using the Set-ResourceConfig cmdlet will overwrite all existing entries, and not add a new entry to the list. Use the Get-ResourceConfig cmdlet to query the existing entries, and then append to the list.
  • For every custom resource property you create in your organization, you must specify to which resource mailbox type it applies (room or equipment). When you are managing a resource mailbox, you can assign only those custom resource properties that apply to that specific resource mailbox type. For example, if you are configuring a room mailbox, you can assign only the custom resource properties that apply to room mailboxes.
  • In Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and earlier versions, LDAP filtering syntax is used to create custom address lists, global address lists (GALs), e-mail address policies, and distribution groups. In Exchange Server 2007, the new OPATH filtering syntax replaces the LDAP filtering syntax. For example a new address lists can only be based on properties filterable by the -RecipientFilter parameter (complete list: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb738157.aspx ). Other properties, including any customer schema extensions, cannot be used in the -RecipientFilter parameter. So LDAP attributes defined to search for rooms or create Address Book views must be included in OPATH properties to allow for a wide use within Exchange 2007.

Example 2: Create Custom Properties for Resource Mailbox





Set-ResourceConfig -ResourcePropertySchema (“Room/TV”, “Room/VCR”, “Equipment/Auto”)


Example 3 : Configure Resource Mailbox Properties





Set-Mailbox -Identity “ResourceMailbox01” -ResourceCustom (“TV”,”VCR”) -ResourceCapacity 50


(from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa996915.aspx)

Room Mailbox Settings


Before explaining how to create the different types of room mailbox, we must focus on the settings that can be done with Set-MalboxCalendarSettings. With this cmdlet you can configure many parameters on the resource mailbox (maximum meeting duration allowed, default reminder time, etc…). A complete list with description is available at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa996340.aspx.

The main parameter that interests us is AutomateProcessing which allows enabling or disabling calendar management on the resource mailbox. The three possible values are:



  • None     Both resource booking and Calendar Attendant will be disabled on the mailbox.  (Meeting requests will not be processed and stacked in the inbox of room mailbox).
  • AutoUpdate     This is the default value. The Calendar Attendant will process meeting requests which will sit in the calendar of the room in a “tentative state” waiting a delegate approval. (The meeting organizer will receive only the decision of the delegate)
  • AutoAccept   Resource booking will be enabled on the room mailbox. This means that the room will take into account the policies for the incoming requests (who can schedule.). (With automatic booking configuration, the organizer will receive the decision of the room. Otherwise organizer will first receive a message of recognition pending delegate approval).

Note:



  • Calendar Attendant automatically places new meetings on the calendar as tentative appointments, updates existing meetings with new information, and deletes out-of-date meeting requests without any client interaction. The Calendar Attendant also processes meeting forward notifications by sending a notification when a meeting request is forwarded and adding meeting attendees to the calendar when a meeting notification is received.
  • Resource Booking Attendant automates acceptance and declination of resource booking requests. Policies can be set up for each resource based upon by whom, when, and for how long a resource can be booked.

The AutoAccept value enables the resource booking policies to manage who can book the room and under what conditions. For each room mailbox, each user can be member of different policies:


  • BookInPolicy: List of users who are allowed to submit in-policy meeting requests. In-policy requests from these users will automatically be approved;
  • RequestInPolicy: List of users who are allowed to submit in-policy meeting requests. In-policy requests from these users will be subject to approval by a delegate;
  • RequestOutOfPolicy: List of users who are allowed to submit out-of-policy meeting requests. Out-of-policy requests from these users will be subject to approval by a delegate;

In the context of resource mailboxes, InPolicy and OutOfPolicy simply mean whether or not the meeting invitation matches any restrictions enabled on the resource mailbox. There are also policies to specify permissions for all users (AllBookInPolicy, AllRequestInPolicy, AllRequestOutOfPolicy).

For example MaximumDurationInMinutes value for the resource mailbox is 30 minutes, any meeting invitation longer than 30 minutes would be OutOfPolicy. Using the RequestOutOfPolicy field, you can manually add users that are allowed to request meetings that are not within the policy.



Figure 1 : Booking Policy – Who can schedule a resource for an Auto-Accept resource mailbox


Room Mailbox Main Scenarios


Now that we know how to create a meeting room with ideas a little clearer on strategies, let’s look at main scenarios of room mailbox that we can implement:


  • Room with automatic booking;
  • Room with meeting requests forwarded to a delegate;
  • Room requiring the logon of a delegate to manage the meeting requests.

Room with automatic booking


To set automatic booking , set AutomateProcessing to AutoAccept to enable resource booking policies. With the default configuration of room policies, all users will then be allowed to send in-policy meeting requests. These requests will be processed automatically by the room.

Example 4: How to enable automatic booking on a Resource Mailbox





Set-MailboxCalendarSettings -Identity “Conference Room” -AutomateProcessing AutoAccept


(from http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb123495.aspx)

Room with meeting requests forwarded to a delegate


To set the room forwarding the incoming meeting requests to a delegate for approval, you must enable and configure policies, and define a delegate:


  • Enable policies: set AutomateProcessing to AutoAccept;
  • All incoming meeting request must be approved by a delegate: set AllRequestInPolicy to True and AllBookInPolicy to False ;
  • Define a delegate under ResourceDelegates parameter. A Resource delegate will have the following permission:

    • Editor on the Calendar folder of the resource mailbox;
    • Editor on the “FreeBusy Data” system folder of the resource mailbox;
    • Ability of “Send on behalf” of resource mailbox.

Example 5: How to set a Room to forward request to a delegate





Set-MailboxCalendarSettings -Identity “Training Room” -AutomateProcessing AutoAccept -ResourceDelegates “Isabelle Dupont” -AllBookInPolicy:$false -AllRequestInPolicy:$true


The delegate can now manage meeting requests forwarded by the room mailboxes from his own mailbox by accepting or rejecting them.
He can also access to the calendar folder of the room mailbox (by the “Open other user’s folder” feature of Outlook client). It should be noted that the responses received by the organizers will be from the delegate on behalf of the room mailbox.

Note: When the Set-MailboxCalendarSettings cmdlet is re-run to modify any settings the original delegate’s permissions are removed. The delegate is still displayed when running the ‘Get-MailboxCalendarSettings’ cmdlet however if you look at the permissions on the resource calendar, the delegate’s permissions have been removed. To re-grant permissions on the resource calendar you must run a “Set-MailboxCalendarSettings resource_alias -ResourceDelegates:$null” command. Afterwards you can re-grant permissions to the intended user. Until this problem is fixed, we would recommend running this command before making any changes to resource delegates.

Room whose management is done directly by the delegate


It’s the default of a newly created room with the AutomateProcessing parameter set to AutoUpdate.

The Calendar Attendant will process meeting requests which will sit in the calendar of the room in a “tentative state” waiting a delegate approval. The delegate needs permissions to connect to the resource mailbox and manage the meeting requests: “Full Mailbox Access” to access the resource mailbox and for example “Send-As” to respond to requests in a transparent manner.

Example 6: The delegate manage the request from the resource mailbox





Set-MailboxCalendarSettings -Identity “Conference Room” -AutomateProcessing AutoUpdate


Add-MailboxPermission -AccessRights FullAccess -Identity “Conference Room” -User “Isabelle Dupont”


Add-ADPermission -Identity “Conference Room” -User “Isabelle Dupont” -ExtendedRights Send-As


Note: “Send As” versus “Send on Behalf”


  • Send As permission will allow a user to send as another user.
  • Send on Behalf permission will allow a user to send on behalf of another user. This means that the recipient knows who really sent the message because it is clearly stated in the message.

Synthesis


Based on the previously detailed main scenarios the minimum parameters to set are the following:





























Resource Calendar Settings

(set-mailboxcalendarsettings)


Automate

Processing


All Book In Policy


All Request In Policy


Resource Delegate


Room Mailbox

Automatic Booking


AutoAccept


True

(default value)


False

(default value)


None

(default value)


Room Mailbox

Manual Approval

Request forwarded to delegates


AutoAccept


False


True


List of Delegates


Room Mailbox

Manual Approval

Delegates approve from room mailbox


AutoUpdate

(default value)


True

(default value)


False

(default value)


None

(default value)


Whatever the scenario, a delegate can modify the resource booking parameter (except the delegate’s part) by accessing the resource mailbox with Outlook Web Access (https://mail.contonso.com/room@contoso.com). To do this, the delegate needs the “Full Mailbox Access” permission to the resource mailbox.



Figure 2 : Resource Mailbox Settings with Outlook Web Access


For further reading and the most up-to-date information:


Murat Gunyar

Comments (18)
  1. Matt Hamilton says:

    Hi Murat,

    Maybe you can help clarify something I’ve noticed with Outlook 2007/Exchange 2007 and resource booking.

    Right now I believe we’re still using the old direct-booking system, because if I take away write-access to the rooms’ calendars from users, they can no longer book a room.

    However, the benefit is that if they try to book a room that’s already booked, they get a dialog pop up ("The resource is already booked for that time" or something) when they click "Send" on the meeting request. Outlook won’t let them send invitations if the room is already booked.

    As I understand it, the newer system with the "auto-accept agent" for rooms meens that if the room was already booked it *waits for the invitation* and then sends back a "decline" message. That means that you could have already invited 20 people to your meeting, and only then realise that the room was double-booked. You’d have to send out alteration notices to all the invitees.

    I know that simply checking the scheduling assistant tab in the meeting request form could prevent this, but my users wouldn’t always do this. Having the "already booked" dialog prevent them from sending the invitation seems like a better solution.

    Can we have both? Can I somehow restrict write-access to rooms’ calendars, but also get the "already booked" dialog if a user tries to double-book a room?

    Cheers!

  2. Murat Gunyar says:

    Hi Matt,

    the popup message must be "<resource name> is already booked for the specified time. You must use another time or find another resource.".

    After few research i found this post: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/exchangesvradmin/thread/2fc784c8-d2ef-4438-96e1-08918f5c0e12/ . And I’ve test the following configuration: "connect to Exchange as the resource mailbox, go to Tools, Options, Calendar Options, Resource Scheduling and check the first two options ("Automatically accept meeting requests and process cancellations" and "Automatically decline conflicting meeting requests")." and yes I’ve the popup.

    With this configuration the organizer will receive immediate popup response instead of a message.

    Murat

  3. Rolf Szimnau says:

    I thought it where a bad idea to use Direct booking and AAA on the same time on a single reason. Or do i misunderstand..

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/903290

    Or is this not a problem anymore in Exchange 2007?

  4. Murat Gunyar says:

    Excellent remark Rolf. I dont know the statement of our support about this configuration with Exchange 2007 and as a precaution I would say that it’s not a recommended configuration (and may be not supported).  But it seems that the use of direct booking is the way to have popup messages.

  5. Nagesh Mahadev says:

    Rolf, if you disable all server side resource processing in Exchange 2007, then direct booking should work. The caveat is that you can only do one or the other (either Exchange resource booking or Outlook direct booking), but not both at the same time on the same resource. Note that for direct booking you might need to enable public folders for Outlook to publish that the resource is available for direct booking.

  6. gurums says:

    Help..with Resource booking in Exchange2007 issue

    Hi,

    Would like to have your suggestions for this problem.

    Issue i am facing is that the attachments shows up when i am booking a Resource mailbox even after i have set the -Deleteattachments TRUE in my Exchange 2007 server.

    When i do get-mailboxcalendarsetting -identity <mailbox> | fl

    Deleteattachments :TRUE

    But still when any user tries to book this Resource (Room) mailbox with any attachment, the attachment is still viewable for that appointment in Outlook 07 as well as OWA

    When i login as that resource mailbox in OWA, i verified that under Resource Settings Delete attachments is checked but still same issue

    I have also disabled and reconnected that resource mailbox to another new AD disabled user but still when anybody books this resource mailbox they can still see the attachments for that particular appointment

    NOTE: This option somehow works for newly created Resource mailboxes, but it doesn’t work only for existing room mailboxes which is really strange

    I do not have any Exchange 2003 servers at all, all those resource mailboxes for which this -Deleteattachments Feature doesn’t work were created only in Exchange 2007 server that i have.

    Any suggestions PLEASE!!!!

  7. Matt Hamilton says:

    Hi Murat,

    Yeah, the idea of running AAA and Direct Booking at the same time is what bothers me (it’s what we’re doing now to keep the "already booked" message).

    The main thing that bugs me is that Direct Booking means I need to give users write-access to the resource calendars. This means that often users will have a room’s calendar open in Outlook to see if it’s busy, and then click the "New Meeting Request" button, which will actually create the meeting *as the room* rather than as themselves. We’ve had this happen quite a bit.

    So I guess I’m hoping that in a future version of Exchange there will be the ability to show the "already booked" message without requiring Direct Booking.

    Matt

  8. Doug Lippi says:

    Yes, this needs to be addressed by the Exchange dev team.  No acceptable configuration exists.

  9. stancrfc says:

    How is a resource mailbox archived since it no longer is a user account?

  10. Robert Greenlee says:

    We will be sticking with the Direct Booking method for resources once we move all of the users and conference rooms to 2007.  I setup and demo’d the new AAA method to my management and they hated it.

    I can see their point.  The majority of our users are still on Outlook 2003 so no Resource Assistant and it is silly that they can send the appt request, have to wait for a email back to know if it was accepted or not, and then maybe have to resend it to the invitees.

    I like Exch2k7 but the new way of booking resources is a step backwards.

  11. Phil.Braniff says:

    Now if Outlook would use the set variables of the "-ResourcePropertySchema" along with a numerical method to search for the "-resourceCapactiy" when booking a room it would make our lives a lot easier. I’ve converted 4600 Room mailboxes in our organization and the users LOVE what they see. They just wish there was a search tool that understood what was possible in the fields (from the schema variables) and then mapped them into check box (for both requires/does not require) to search for the room features. Also the room capacity needs to be searched in a way that if you enter a value that any room with capacity greater than the room also matches the search.

  12. Chris Carlson says:

    Matt, this post is a little long, but I’ve spent a lot of time on this so I thought I would pass on what I’ve found so far.  Hope it helps.  While you can use direct booking in exchange 2007 keep in mind that you have to set Author permissions for direct
    booking to function properly.  The downside to that is anyone that has author permissions can see the full details of any meeting on the conference room calendar.  Unfortunately having all calendar information won’t work for my company so we are converting
    over to resource rooms.  One thing you can do to kind of get around not getting a  pop up notification deficiency is to instruct users to book the conference room first then add the attendees.  if users need  to see the free busy information of the attendees,
    open up two meetings.  one for the attendees and the other for the conference room.  find a time then see if its available on the conference room.  I know it’s a two step process but that’s a lot better than having to update 20+ attendees every time the conference
    room declines your meeting.

    This is following paragraph/link outlines why direct booking allows the pop up message before you schedule a meeting.   The main difference is with direct book you use the outlook client of the organizer to schedule the meeting.  That is why you receive the
    pop up notification before you send the meeting request.  It is also why it requires author permission to the conference room calendar because you are not sending any meeting notification to the mailbox that’s set up for direct booking.  Rather you use the
    author permissions to gain access to the calendar.  The resource room method uses the calendar attendant to processes the meeting request which happens after you send the meeting request. This is also why you don’t require author permissions for the conference
    room calendars that are configured as a resource and also why you don’t receive a pop up notification like you do with direct booking.  My hope is that someone in MS will include some logic to the resource rooms.  Where if you have both conference rooms and
    required attendees that the meeting request gets sent first to the resource room and will only send to the required attendees after you receive an accepted response from the resource room…I have not found anything yet so I don’t think it’s possible.

    http://msexchangeteam.com/archive/2007/05/14/438944.aspx

    Direct booking is an Outlook-specific feature that uses the organizer’s Outlook client (Outlook 2000 or later) to book an appointment directly into a resource mailbox schedule. The Outlook client of the person organizing the meeting performs all the necessary
    tasks, such as conflict checking and placing the reservation on the resource calendar. The resource mailbox must be manually configured with Outlook to support direct booking. It can be set up to allow automatically accept non-conflicting meeting requests
    and to allow/deny recurring bookings.

    Advantages of Direct booking:

    1. Immediate confirmation/denial of booking request.
    2. It has the logic to avoid double-booking.

    With these advantages in mind, some disadvantages of Direct booking include:
    1. Direct booking requires granting organizer read/write permissions on the calendar. Hence, users can just go onto the resource’s calendar and delete existing meetings to free up space for their own meetings.

    2. Organizer must remember to designate resource as "Resource" and not "Required" or "Optional". No conflict checking is done if resource specified as one of the latter (rule on resource’s inbox should be created to generate reply to this effect).

    3. Since there is availability against free/busy, latency in free/busy replication can result in double-booking.

    4. Conflicts aren’t detected beyond the range of published free/busy and can result in double-booking.

    5. Outlook Web Access does not currently support the "direct booking" of meeting requests.

  13. delete comments not working says:

    i have 100 room mailboxes. i have setthem to delete meeting comments if exists on a meeting while booking.

    when i view from OWA comments do not appear

    when i open room in outlook comments are visible.

    not sure how to proceed further

  14. delegated room attendtent and in policy says:

    I have a good question  , i have a room mailbox and its set to recieve meeting room request by a delegated admin , means all users sends the request to room and room forwards to delegated admin for the room , and room can autoaccept if delegated admin sends the request to room , the problem i am facing is that if delegated resource admin recieves the request and approves it , it does not save this meeting request on delegated admin calendar , so how can i consolidate all the meeting rooms request to delegated admin calendar , i dont want to open calendar for every room, but if delegated admin books the room manually by sending email to room , means out policy request then it saves on his calendar , please let me know if you came across this issue.

  15. Eug says:

    I’m still on Exchange 2003 and using Direct Booking.  Reading through this and then reading Matt’s comment my first reaction was the same as his – that missing the pop-up is bad.

    But after thinking it through, are the users just adding names to the invite and sending it out or are they ensuring that all the required attendees have the time open?

    If they are looking for the next available time open for everyone, then the room should also be in the list and they shouldn’t book the time if the room is busy anymore then they would try to get Becky to attend if they saw she was busy/out of the office at that time.

    Or am I missing something?

  16. aabdullah says:

    I’ve recently began to dabble with resource mailboxes, specifically attemtping to enable users the ability to add a conference room to their meeting requests. So, I’m able to create the resource mailbox, as well as configure the resource settings through OWA. When I click new meeting request in Outlook, and then click the rooms button, I’m unable to view the rooms in the "All rooms" address list. I can, however, see th rooms from the meeting request page when logged into OWA. Any ideas as to what this issue is?

  17. Sterling says:

    Ok here is a question – how does one relocate a meeting from one resource/room to another without being the meeting organizer?  We have assistants that need to be able to movee meetings between rooms as needed to make room for the executives and such.  Cant find any information on this anywhere – help!  Thanks!

  18. Matt Hamilton says:

    @Eug yes, you can always look at the scheduling assistant to determine whether the rooms (and attendees) are available, but it’s an extra step that our users just won’t take. They’ll send out the invitation and then complain that the room declined because it was double-booked.

    It’s not worth setting it up that way because it just means we’ll spend most of our time defending the setup because we can’t make it stop the user from sending the invitation.

Comments are closed.