Question: Why can’t I manage Exchange 2010 mailboxes in AD Users & Computers any more?
One of the first things my customers notice when I demonstrate Exchange Server 2010 management to them is that mailboxes are no longer created or managed in the Active Directory Users & Computers console.
This is sometimes alarming for them because it means that migrating to Exchange 2010 forces a change in their administrative habits and workflows, for example creating a user account and a mailbox now requires two different management tools instead of just one.
I usually explain a few or all of the following reasons for this change:
- AD Users & Computers used to integrate nicely with the Exchange 2003 System Manager tools
- AD Users & Computers uses a different MMC version than the Exchange Management Console
- The Exchange Management Console is now built on top of PowerShell, which AD Users & Computers is not
- The change re-unites Exchange mailbox management with organization and server management in a single console
- The sheer number of management tasks available in the Exchange Management Console would make the AD Users & Computers interface too crowded and confusing
- Separating the two is important for organizations that separate the roles of user and Exchange management into different teams with different levels of administrative rights
Personally I’m in favor of the change and have enjoyed having dedicated management tools for Exchange Server 2007 and 2010.
Since the main impact tends to be on new user creation workflow I demonstrate to customers that they can change to one of three approaches:
- Create the user account as part of the mailbox creation process in the Exchange Management Console, and then switch to AD Users & Computers to finish the job (eg configure group membership, home drive and profile paths, etc)
- Create the user account in AD Users & Computers first, and then switch to the Exchange Management Console to mailbox-enable the account
- Use scripting and automation to enable mailboxes for newly created user accounts (eg have a script that checks AD every hour for new user accounts within a certain OU structure and enable a mailbox for them on the appropriate mailbox server)