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Booking Resources with Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook System 2003 After a successful implementation of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, the next step would be implementing lots of improvements within the working processes of the company and its organizational infrastructure. Many companies are willing to plan their company resources using Exchange and Outlook to make it easier for each employee to find out if a resource is already booked or still available.
Published: Jan 17, 2006 Updated: Jan 17, 2006 Section: Management & Administration Author: Markus Klein PrintableVersion Adjust font size: Rating: 4.1/5 - 209 Votes
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These resources could be conferencing rooms, cars, projector, etc. in general nearly everything that is being used bymorethanoneemployeeduringworkingdays. WithanExchange/Outlookinfrastructureinyourcompanytherearevariouswaystomakethiswork.Withinthis article we will have a close look at each possibility. We will not just talk of how to configure it, in addition, we willdiscusstheprosandconsoftheseimplementationtasks. Possible Solutions In general, there are different ways to solve this problem: Public folders Moderated Public Folders Email Accounts Within the following chapters we will discuss each of these in more detail. Public Folders Onewaytomakeresourcesavailableinyourmessagingandcollaborationenvironmentistocreateapublicfolderfor each of them. This means you will have to use your Microsoft Office Outlook Client to create a new public folder with the design of a calendar. After having created it, you will have to configure the permissions; this means you will have to setup the structure of permissions that will reflect your organizational structure. The steps are as follows: 1. 2. CreateanewpublicfolderwiththecalendaringdesignfromyourMicrosoftOfficeOutlookclient. Grant appropriate permissions to give the relevant employees access to this new public folder calendar.
Figure 1: Creating Public Folder for each Resource The big advantage of this solution is that there is no Client Access License (CAL) needed for each public folder resource. You can create your reservations by setting up your own entry. But the problem is that there is no real workflowavailable.Thismeansthatthereisnowaytoimplementasolutiongivingyouautomaticreplyoravailability checks while planning events. You even do not have any possibility to invite the resource using the well-known MicrosoftOfficeOutlookClientinvitationform.Sothisisabigdisadvantageregardingthissolution.
Moderated Public Folders Another way to solve the resource reservation and booking process problem is to declare a group of people that are responsible for that resource. Very often you can find this topic in the job documentation of a typical secretarial team. Theyareabletodecidewhetheraresourcebookingisreallyimportantandcorrect,ortosolvearesourcebooking collision by e.g. moving meetings to other conference rooms or canceling them in time. The steps in detail are as follows: 1. 2. CreateanewpublicfolderwiththecalendaringdesignfromyourMicrosoftOfficeOutlookClient. Grant the appropriate permissions on this folder to make sure that only employees responsible for this resource have the relevant authorization.
Figure 2:ConfiguringPermissionsonaPublicFolderResource 3. ConfigureaModeratorforthispublicfoldertomakesurethatentriesarebeingaddedwithoutinformingthe folder moderator.
This is quite easy to configure, just configure the moderated folder features provided by Exchange 2003.
Figure 3: Using the Moderated Folder Feature Email Accounts Thethird,andmostcomplexsolutionistocreatepseudomailboxesforeachresourceyouwanttobeautomatically administered by Exchange itself. Thismeansthatyouwillhavetocreateauseraccountnamedthesameastheresourceandthencreateamailboxfor thisvirtualuser.Nowyoucanlogonastheresourceandconfigurethefree-/busy configuration settings within Outlook 2003. The steps in detail are as follows: 1. 2. 3. Createanewusernamedthesameastheresourceyouwanttopublish. Logon as this virtual user resource. Configure the settings for Free-/Busy to: a. b. 4. Automatically accept new bookings if free time is available Automatically decline bookings if there are already bookings
If needed, grant the appropriate users access to this new resource by choosing the corresponding security level. Logoff.
Logon as user and test everythingto make sure it is working properly.
Figure 4: Creating a Virtual User for each Resource
Figure 5: Configuring Resource Scheduling Settings
Figure 6: Settings for Resource Scheduling Ifyounowtrytobookthisresourceautomatically,youshouldbeawarethatyouneedtoinviteitasaresourcefrom your Microsoft Office Outlook client to make it work properly.
Figure 7: Booking Resources automatically Thegreatthingaboutthissolutionisthatitisquiteeasytoworkwithautomaticbookingresources.Theonlyproblemis that you will have to provide a Client Access License (CAL) for each published resource too. Conclusionadvertisement
As you have seen in the text above, there are quite different possibilities of implementing resource availability planning features into your Exchange Server 2003 organization. They range from quite easy but not the best implementations withoutanyadditionalcostsoflicensestoverycomfortableconfigurationswithautomaticreplieswherenearly everything is possible. In special configurations there are additional CALs needed, but if you are running big organizational implementations you will not have any easier way to provide this service to your employees. Youhavetodecidewhichwayyouwanttogohere,butonethingisimportantineachdeploymentstrategy:choose thesolutionyouthinkthatisbestforyou,butneverchooseasolutionwithoutanygoodarguments.Providing automatic resource booking with Exchange Server 2003 is one of the major goals when email and collaboration systemsarealreadydeployedinyournetworkenvironment. If you still have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
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