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Three Microsoft collaboration tools all Exchange admins should know

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What to know to create Exchange 2013 site mailboxes with SharePoint

Exchange 2013 site mailboxes tie SharePoint and Exchange 2013 together. Setup can be tricky, but understanding these five aspects can help.

When Microsoft launched Exchange Server 2013 and SharePoint 2013, it introduced a new feature called site mailboxes. A site mailbox facilitates collaboration between Exchange and SharePoint and also allows Outlook 2013 to be used as a SharePoint client.

As promising as site mailboxes might be, they have been a source of confusion for some admins. Here are five things to keep in mind when creating site mailboxes and how to make them work for you.

Basic site mailbox creation and requirements

One of the most common questions about creating site mailboxes is where the site mailbox creation option can be found. Mailbox creation has always been an Exchange Server function, but you won't find a site mailbox creation option in the Exchange Administration Center. That's because you must create site mailboxes through SharePoint 2013.

In SharePoint 2013, Microsoft started referring to lists, libraries, site mailboxes and other items as "apps." That being the case, creating a site mailbox is accomplished by adding an app to a SharePoint site.

To create a site mailbox, open your SharePoint site and click the Site Settings icon. Next, choose the Add an App option. You will now see a list of apps you can add (the list is spread over a couple of pages). One of these apps is called Site Mailbox. Click on this option to create a site mailbox.

The Site Mailbox App is missing

As you work through the procedure to create a site mailbox, you might discover that there is no Site Mailbox app.

Assuming you are setting up an on-premises SharePoint 2013 deployment, there are three requirements that must be met in order to use site mailboxes.

  • SharePoint 2013 must be set up in a farm configuration; standalone SharePoint 2013 deployments will not work.
  • SharePoint 2013 must be connected to a full installation of SQL Server; using SQL Server Express Edition will not work. You must be running Exchange Server 2013.

The User Profile Service app

To use SharePoint site mailboxes, you must first establish user profile synchronization. However, before you can do that, you must set up a User Profile Service Application. Remember, almost everything is called an app in SharePoint 2013.

Setting up a User Profile Service Application is performed through the SharePoint Central Administration console. Click on Manage Service Applications, then click the New icon. Next, select the User Profile Service Application.

Before moving on, you must start the User Profile Service. If the User Profile Service fails to start, make sure NetBIOS is enabled. If the SharePoint Central Administration console and the User Profile service are running on the same server, then you must reset IIS before continuing.

Create a synchronized connection

You must now establish a synchronized connection to the Active Directory. To set up a new synchronized connection, open the SharePoint 2013 Central Administration console and click on Manage Service Applications, followed by the User Profile Service Application option, then the Configure Synchronization Connections option.

After the synchronized connection has been established, you need to manually start a full synchronization. Remember, this process will fail if your SharePoint server is not using a full copy of SQL Server.

Certificate requirements

As mentioned at the beginning of this tip, this is not a full walkthrough of the configuration process, but rather a discussion of some of the more common problems you may come across. That said, I want to quickly mention that you must create a farm-level App Management Service application and a Claims Based Web Application before moving on.

One of the most critical configuration tasks is acquiring and assigning certificates. This certificate must be valid for both Exchange Server 2013 and for SharePoint 2013, because it will be used to establish an OAuth Trust between the two applications.

Once Exchange Server 2013 and SharePoint 2013 have each been configured to use the certificate, you must establish the OAuth trust. This process involves the use of PowerShell scripting. Get the necessary PowerShell code here.

About the author
Brien Posey is a ten-time Microsoft MVP for his work with Windows Server, IIS, Exchange Server and file system storage technologies. Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and health care facilities and was once responsible for IT operations at Fort Knox. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the nation's largest insurance companies.

This was first published in April 2013

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Essential Guide

Three Microsoft collaboration tools all Exchange admins should know

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