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Exchange 2010 SP1 Tidbits: Automatic Mailbox Distribution

June 30, 2011

One feature that was introduced in Exchange 2010 SP1 that I find quite useful when creating or moving mailboxes on the fly is Automatic Mailbox Distribution. This is an automated process that can place mailboxes on databases in your environment based on administrator configured preferences.

Automatic Mailbox Distribution is used when a database is not specified with the New-Mailbox, Enable-Mailbox or New-MoveRequest cmdlets.

Administrators also have the ability to temporarily or permanently exclude databases from being eligible for automatic distribution.

Database Management Scopes can also be used to manage which databases are eligible for automated placement. This is a part of RBAC (Role Based Access Control), by default Exchange 2010 Administrators can see all databases, but there might be situations where access to certain databases are limited to only select groups of Administrators. This can be managed using the New-ManagementScope and Set-ManagementRoleAssignment cmdlets.

The way Automatic Distribution works is pretty simple,

  1. Exchange will pull a list of mailbox database in the local Exchange 2010 environment.
  2. Any databases that an Administrator has previously labeled for exclusion will be disregarded.
  3. Management Scopes are taken into consideration and databases outside of the Administrator’s Management Scope are removed from being a potential destination.
  4. The Automatic Distribution is also limited to local Active Directory Sites where the operation is being performed, so any databases outside of the local site will be disregarded.
  5. After narrowing down a list of potential databases, Exchange chooses a database randomly as long as the database is online and in a healthy state.

*One drag to this whole process is the following statement by Microsoft:
Exchange doesn’t redistribute mailboxes to distribute load across databases automatically based on server load.

This would be a pretty cool addition to an already useful new feature in my opinion.

If you want to learn more on how to use Automatic Mailbox Distribution and how to administer it with Exclusions and Database Scopes, see the following website:
Understanding Automatic Mailbox Distribution: Exchange 2010 SP1 Help

Have a good one!


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