Exchange and Lync Room System (LRS): Are you in a supported scenario?

Over the last few month the popularity of those devices dramatically increased. Lync Room System (LRS) are changing the culture of meetings and bring them to another level. Personally I think those devices are pretty cool and useful, only the prices could be a shocker. But as time goes by even those prices will drop. In this post I will not cover how to setup those systems. I want to point your view at supportability of those devices in enterprise environments. I’m now looking at LRS only from Exchange perspective and about what I’m struggling. You can find the official guide here. The problem started when I read in the document we have to enable the account of the room mailbox after it was created and configured. Don’t get me wrong, but from Exchange perspective there is a very clear statement about the AD account objects for room and resource mailboxes: Exchange 2013 Exchange 2010 When you scroll down to Mailbox Types you will find the following for Resource mailboxes:

  • Resource mailboxes   Resource mailboxes are special mailboxes designed to be used for scheduling resources. Like all mailbox types, a resource mailbox has an associated Active Directory user account, but it must be a disabled account. The following are the types of resource mailboxes:
    • Room mailboxes   These mailboxes are assigned to meeting locations, such as conference rooms, auditoriums, and training rooms.
    • Equipment mailboxes   These mailboxes are assigned to resources that aren’t location-specific, such as portable computers, projectors, microphones, or company cars.

You can include both types of resource mailboxes in meeting requests, providing a simple and efficient way for your users to use resources. You can configure resource mailboxes to automatically process incoming meeting requests based on the resource booking policies that are defined by the resource owners. For example, you can configure a conference room to automatically accept incoming meeting requests except recurring meetings, which can be subject to approval by the resource owner.

There is no doubt: those accounts needs to be disabled in order to have a supported scenario. But it looks like you have no chance, when your scenario is a single forest and you need to get them working.

What about multiple forest?

The guide mentioned that in a multiple forest scenario only Exchange 2013 CU6 and higher is supported. This statement was not in the first versions, which is fine as products are changing and not all scenarios can be forseen and covered in such a document. But what is the difference to Exchange 2010? Well, there is a new type of mailbox LinkedRoom:

$cred = Get-Credential AuthForest\LinkedRoomTest new-mailbox -Alias LinkedRoomTest -LinkedMasterAccount AuthForest\LinkedRoomTest -LinkedDomainController AuthForest-4939.AuthForest.extest.contoso.com -UserPrincipalName LinkedRoomTest@ExchangeForest.contoso.comm -Name LinkedRoomTest -LinkedCredential $cred –LinkedRoom

But what if you have Exchange 2010 in place? I think it would be overkill to do an upgrade to Exchange 2013 only because of this. Do you get it to work with Exchange 2010? Yes! Are there any drawbacks? Yes! If you cover this scenario with Exchange 2010 you cannot get around and create a linked mailbox. As you do so the type of mailbox is switching from room to a “normal” LinkedMailbox. Calendarprocessing will still work, but you won’t be able to find the room in the GAL in the “All Rooms” list: Before Before_Room01 Before_Room02 After After_Room01 You can’t find the room in the “All Rooms” list After_Room02 but you can find it in the GAL After_Room03 As you can see the room doesn’t looks like a room anymore, which can be really confusing for the end-users! In general this shouldn’t be a big issue, but you need to communicate this to your customers! As soon as you performed an upgrade to Exchange 2013 or higher you can convert the room to a LinkedRoom.

Conclusion

Well, yes I know that there are many things you can do, but there is sometimes the question whether it is supported or not. You should always find a way to stay supported. Personally I can’t advice you what is the best. You really have to look at your business needs. What bothers me is that we have here 2 PGs, which seems never talked to each other. This could bring you as a customer (and your own customers!) into an unwanted situation. Currently I’m still waiting for an official statement who takes over responsibility just in case I have to open a ticket as something is not working as expected: Is it Lync or Exchange PG?

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