02 Nov 2016

Configuring and using public folders

Microsoft has made great improvement to public folders and you can take advantage of them with CloudPanel in your multi-tenant environment. In the past Microsoft has used public folder databases and you had to put all of the content and hierarchy in those databases. Starting with Exchange 2013 they have moved away from using databases and now allow you to use the mailbox architecture to deliver your public folders. This allows for increased scalability and redundancy by utilizing your existing DAG.

CloudPanel only supports public folders for Exchange 2013 CU5 and later.

Preparing your environment

Before you can start delivering public folders to your customers you must prepare your environment by following a few simple steps.

The first step is to create the first public folder mailbox. The first public folder mailbox created is the Master and all other ones created after are secondary. The hierarchy will always be contained within the master but the actual content will be contained within the customers public folder mailbox.

Create the first public folder mailbox:

  • Select Public Folders
  • Select Public Folder Mailboxes
  • Click on the Add button

There are a couple of requirements that need to be met for the master public folder mailbox:

  • This mailbox must always be available or people will not be able to write to their public folders
  • This mailbox must contain a valid email address which contains a domain that works with autodiscover for all customers. (You may need to use powershell to set this email address)

Create Public Folder Mailbox Plan

Each public folder mailbox created for a customer will need to be assigned a public folder mailbox plan. This plan will set values on the mailbox to limit the size of data that the customer can place inside the mailbox.

Import into CloudPanel

Now that you have created the first public folder mailbox (which is the master), you will need to import this into CloudPanel so CloudPanel recognizes it.

To import into CloudPanel you will need to click on the refresh button on the public folder mailboxes page:

  • On the menu go to Features -> Microsoft Exchange -> Public Folder Mailboxes
  • Click on the refresh button at the top right under the Add button

Add Public Folder Mailboxes

Once you are caught up to this point you can now create public folder mailboxes for your customers.

Creating public folder mailboxes is done by clicking on the Add New button at the top right and filling in the fields:

  • Name: This is the name of the public folder mailbox
  • Display Name: This is the display name of the public folder mailbox
  • E-Mail:?Each public folder mailbox must contain a valid email address that works with autodiscover. Public folders will not work and will generate errors if autodiscover is not working properly. The email address you enter should be using a domain that belongs to the customer you are creating the public folder mailbox for.
  • Plan:?The public folder mailbox plan that limits the amount of data that can be put in the mailbox
  • Company:?The company you want to create the public folder mailbox for
  • Root Folder Name:?When you create a public folder mailbox it will create a top level public folder that your customer will put all of their data in. This is the name of the public folder being created.

What is happening on the back end?

Up to this point you should have working public folders for your customers but you may be wondering what exactly is happening on the backend?

Enabling public folders for a company will:

  • Create a PublicFolderAdmins@<CompanyCode> and PublicFolderUsers@<CompanyCode> security distribution groups
  • Add Admins@<CompanyCode> to PublicFolderAdmins@<CompanyCode>
  • Add AllUsers@<CompanyCode> to PublicFolderUsers@<CompanyCode>
  • Create a new public folder mailbox and apply limits based on the public folder mailbox plan
  • Create a new root public folder in the new public folder mailbox using the name you provided in the Root Public Folder Name field
  • Add the PublicFolderAdmins and PublicFolderUsers security groups to the new root public folder for the company
  • Update the DefaultPublicFolderMailbox attribute for all users within the same company to the new public folder mailbox that was created.

Once your customers have working public folders you can create new public folders (under their root)?using CloudPanel but specific public folder types such as Calendar or Contact public folders will need to be created with Outlook.

Mail-Enabled Public Folders

With CloudPanel you have the option to enable a public folder for email so it can receive email from inside and/or outside users.

To modify public folders:

  • Find the company in CloudPanel and select itPublicFolderUsers@<CompanyCode> security distribution groups
  • Click on Microsoft Exchange -> Public Folders
  • The first public folder listed is the root folder and it cannot be modified. Click on the root folder
  • Now you should see all public folders directly under the root folder. If your public folder is missing then go back to the public folder mailboxes page and click on the refresh button. Once you see the public folder you want to enable for email click on the pencil icon
  • Select E-Mail Settings
  • Enter the values you want to be applied to this public folder.

Keep in mind that if you want the public folder to receive email from external users you will need to uncheck ?Require Sender Authentication Enabled?