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|Daily Digest: April 14, 2010|| |
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This is the first of a short series of bulletins on Exchange public folders. We discuss:
What Public Folders Are
Public folders have been available since Exchange 4.0, which shipped in 1996. They represent an early attempt by Microsoft to provide a common space that users can work in. So they can be thought of as a precursor to SharePoint. In particular, public folders provide places where users can share email, files, calendars, and address book information.
Public folders are implemented as a MAPI folder hierarchy, potentially many folders deep. Most folders contain email messages, but in fact public folders can contain any Outlook/Exchange data type and conventional files.
As their name indicates, public folders are shared among users. Access controls can be defined on any part of the hierarchy, including the ability to delegate permission-setting to other users. Public folders reside on Exchange servers. To provide for ease of access for many users, they are typically replicated between different departmental servers.
To get a better feel for how they look from the user standpoint, see this 10-minute video.
How Public Folders Are Used
In a large organization, the top levels of the hierarchy typically represent a natural nesting of divisions, regions, departments, and so on, down to clusters of closely related users. The leaf folders contain actual information.
Common uses of leaf folders are:
In-house-developed public folder applications are also common, such as a help desk system, where forms are used to manage trouble tickets. The tickets are accessed via forms, and the information is stored in a public folder and its appropriate subfolder (e.g., "New Ticket," "Being Worked On," and "Resolved").
Finally, a variety of third-party applications are available that use public folders. An example is Pertrac's contact management applications, which are used by investment banking traders to share information about customers.
Two key roles must be defined:
A wide variety of privileges can be assigned; administrator-only privileges include the definition of replication and limits settings. Access controls are inherited from higher folders, although they can be overridden.
... David Ferris and Rita Gurevich. Rita is founder of SPHERE Technology Solutions, a professional services organization that focuses on data management and clean-up initiatives in the Microsoft infrastructure.
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