Successful Policies for Exchange Administration (Part 2)
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As an administrator, the policies you set on your Exchange system are key to keeping things manageable. Several areas where you need to have clearly defined policies are: size limits, distribution list structure, public folder structure and virus protection. If you are lucky, this was already accomplished before the system grew too large. If you are not so lucky, you have a nice mess to clean up before you can call your system organized. This second article deals with distribution list and public folder structure. The first article in the series dealt with size limits and can be viewed here: Part 1. As an administrator, the policies you set on your Exchange system are key to keeping things manageable. Several areas where you need to have clearly defined policies are: size limits, distribution list structure, public folder structure and virus protection.
Distribution Lists and Public Folders
Distribution lists and public folders are some of the most flexible and commonly used features in Exchange. They allow information to be made available to users all the time and also allow mail to be delivered to groups instead of to individuals. Unfortunately, as a company grows, the amount of lists and folders grow as well. Without a carefully designed organizational structure, your public folders and distribution lists can quickly become unwieldy. It is always better to plan ahead then to fix later. Once your users are used to certain lists, it is next to impossible to change it to accommodate a new organizational plan.
It is important to create a distribution list and public folder that follows some sort of organization. This includes creation, naming and placement. You need to set rules on what circumstances you will create a new public folder or distribution list. For example, I will not create a distribution list that will have less than three members. You will find that your users will want a list or folder for every little thing and once created, they will be forgotten about and not used. If you have ever had to navigate through your GAL that has over 500 DL's, you can see why this would be a problem. If a user needs a list created, make sure there isn't already a list out there that will suffice.
If it is necessary to create a new list or folder, it is ESSENTIAL to have an organized naming scheme. I cannot emphasize this enough. It may be easy to know what list to send to in the beginning, but as the system grows, so do the lists, and without organization it will become almost impossible to find the correct list. In my organization I have set the following guidelines for naming: GROUP - Sub - Sub. For example, a HR list might look like this: HR - Meetings - Staff Meetings or SALES - South - California. Just remember that if the names become too long, they will be cut off when viewed in the address book. I usually have the alias/SMTP name formatted like firstname.lastname@example.org This type of system may not work for your organization, but find one that does and stick to it. The Group level will usually be the group that owns the list, even if the list is composed of people from different areas of your company's structure.
The same concept applies to public folders as distribution lists. The only difference is that you can create the folders in a hierarchy, so they don't need to be named in that fashion. The most important thing to note is to make sure you limit your top-level folders. The best way to do that is by going to the Information Store Site Configuration in the Exchange Admin program and specifying only the absolute minimum number of groups or people with this permission.
Having a well-structured distribution list and public folder system allows your users to find and disseminate information in the most efficient manner. As the administrator, it is up to you to ensure policies are in place to keep your system under control. My next article will deal with policies relating to virus protection.
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