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Exchange Management and Automation

Administering Active Directory or Microsoft Entra ID means inevitably dealing with Exchange. The fact that there are jobs on the market specifically titled 'Exchange administrator' suggests that dealing with Exchange requires a lot of time and experience – something that doesn't come cheap.

Even though PowerShell scripts are a thing, writing and managing scripts for Exchange only means shifting your focus to a task that requires even more time and skill. Some even end up abandoning the dream of automating Exchange management in favor of dedicating an entire department to manually manage Exchange for the sake of simplicity.

Adaxes does not demand such sacrifices. You can have the best of both worlds – streamlined Exchange automation and flexibility to pounce at non-standard cases with convenience and haste.

Automatic mailbox creation

When a new employee is hired, someone needs to provision a mailbox for them. That someone has to learn and consistently follow a rigorous set of guidelines and policies to properly configure the mailbox, not even mentioning the time they need to spend navigating around the Exchange UI to tick all the boxes.

The only question is why. Why must a standardized and predictable process be done by a person, no matter how skilled they are? Adaxes can automatically create and configure an Exchange mailbox after creating a user account. No Exchange option is off limits. Provisioning a mailbox will be just another step in your automated user onboarding workflow.

You can use templates in the workflow to configure mailboxes differently, depending on the new user's properties. For example, the %manager% template can be used to automatically grant calendar access rights to the user's manager.

For more intricate workflows, you can use conditions. For example, you can assign different Exchange policies, storage quotas, etc. based on the user's department, job title, group membership, or anything else. As long as you understand the logic that you need to apply, Adaxes will configure all mailboxes for you.

On-premises and online mailboxes

There is a fundamental difference between on-premises and online mailboxes when you provision them using native tools. On-premises mailboxes are straightforward – you select a database, create a mailbox, and configure the mailbox. It is relatively simple to automate with PowerShell with enough dedication.

Exchange Online mailboxes are way trickier. You need to wait for the AD user to be synchronized to Entra ID first, then assign an Exchange Online license to the cloud account, then wait an indeterminate amount of time until the mailbox is ready... clearly, there is very little control over the process to even approach it with PowerShell in hand.

In Adaxes, there is no practical difference. Adaxes is smart enough to automatically handle either process with zero user input and present you with a perfectly configured mailbox no matter where you want it.

How to automate Exchange mailbox configuration

Automatic mailbox management

When a user account is updated in your directory, you might need to introduce changes to their mailbox configuration. For example, when an employee moves to another office. Updating their email aliases, mailbox rights, and whatever else your policy dictates is a necessity to keep things in order.

In Adaxes, it is enough to update the Office property of the user account to trigger a cascade of other predefined actions that will handle the employee transfer tasks in Exchange, Entra ID, and Active Directory.

Again, the same principles as with the initial mailbox configuration apply. Adaxes lets you construct Exchange workflows of any complexity as long as you can clearly define the logic and actions in your head. We wish there was a magic fix-everything button, but there isn't. You can automate only what you understand.

Web interface for Exchange

While automation is perfect for consistent processes, sporadic Exchange tasks will pop up now and then, and will always require a human to resolve.

The Exchange admin center is great and all... but did you ever wish there was a way to perform these Exchange tasks more efficiently? That's what we thought. The Web interface in Adaxes enables you to manage user mailboxes, resource mailboxes, distribution lists, mail-enabled contacts, etc. no matter where they reside – on-prem, in hybrid, or in the cloud. Your Exchange administrators will revel in the simplicity of managing conceptually different objects from different environments in the same way.

Besides, the Web interface is not just for Exchange. You can use it to perform any task in AD and Entra ID as well. Exchange mailbox modifications usually come along with other changes, so making those changes while you're at it is as optimal as it gets.

Delegating Exchange tasks

The main argument against delegating Exchange tasks is that special skills and training are required to perform them. Adaxes throws that argument out of the window. Simple things like updating mailbox rights or message forwarding can and should be delegated to business users, like department managers.

The Web interface is what allows these users to bypass the difficulty of learning native Exchange tools. The role-based access model prevents them from doing the things they shouldn't. It allows you to granularly grant permissions to any user for any Exchange task, no matter how specific it is.

To complete the puzzle, you can hide all Exchange features you don't want to delegate from the Web interface. Even not so computer-literate employees will handle Exchange tasks with ease if the only thing they see is a button that does what they need.

You can push the delegation boundaries even further. For instance, delegating the creation of distribution groups. What harm can be done if every important property of the new group is pre-populated by Adaxes according to your standards, and the entire operation will be sent for approval to your Exchange admin?

Delegation is nothing to be afraid of. With careful planning and proper tools, everyone using Exchange will be able to contribute to managing Exchange.

More about delegation

Exchange reports

Finally, there are reports. With more than 50 built-in reports for Exchange and the ability to create custom reports, monitoring Exchange usage has never been that easy. Any Exchange report you can conceive can be displayed in Adaxes. For instance, mailboxes on litigation hold with a storage quota of less than 1GB.

You can also schedule Exchange reports for you and your fellow administrators to keep your hand on the pulse and take action right when a key Exchange metric hits the 'must investigate' territory.

Reports put a final nail in the coffin of Exchange management pain. No matter how many Exchange tasks you automated or delegated, reports ensure you don't lose track of anything. In the end, all Exchange management will boil down to reviewing reports, approving requests, and rarely fixing minor user mistakes. That sounds way way easier than the position of 'Exchange administrator' implies. And, it only requires a single tool to get there – Adaxes.

More about reports

See also

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