Microsoft Exchange Server 2010: Practical Exchange Server Management

Exchange 2010 has a handful of management tools that help you manage Exchange in the manner with which you’re most comfortable.

Excerpted from “Exchange 2010 - A Practical Approach,” published by Red Gate Books (2009).

Jaap Wesselius

There’s a closely intertwined relationship between Exchange Server 2010 and Active Directory. Managing an Exchange Server 2010 environment implies managing, to some degree, aspects of an Active Directory environment. I’ll focus primarily on the three Exchange Server 2010 management tools, and touch upon the Active Directory methods where relevant.

You manage Exchange Server 2010 with:

  • Exchange Management Console (EMC)
  • Exchange Management Shell (EMS)
  • Exchange Control Panel (ECP)

The EMC is the GUI for managing an Exchange environment. In a Windows environment, especially smaller environments, lots of Exchange administrators are accustomed to using GUIs and, as such, the EMC will almost certainly be the primary means of managing Exchange.

Alternatively, the EMS is also a complete management interface, and can manage all aspects of an Exchange organization. The EMS is actually also the primary management interface, as the EMC is built “on top” of it. Every action taken in the EMC is translated on the fly into an EMS command and executed.

Under the hood, the EMS uses Windows PowerShell 2.0, which, combined with the remote-management capabilities in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2, gives Exchange administrators the ability to remotely manage their Exchange environment. As an aside, a combination of the EMC and the EMS is a great environment for learning more about using Windows PowerShell 2.0 with Exchange Server 2010.

Exchange Server 2010 also has a new management feature, the ECP. The ECP is part of the Outlook Web App, which gives both users and administrators some administrative control. Regular users can, of course, do as much as they were able to in the Outlook Web Access options page in Exchange Server 2007, but Exchange administrators and users with appropriate delegated permissions now have the additional ability to manage some basic information in their Exchange environment.

Exchange Management Shell

The EMS is actually a superset of commands built on top of Windows PowerShell. Product Teams within Microsoft create their own EMS solutions, and Exchange Server was one of the first products to do this. Naturally, there are other tools with the EMS—such as the System Center products—and many of them are also built on top of Windows PowerShell.

Exchange Server 2010 uses Windows PowerShell 2.0 (as does Exchange Server 2007 SP2), and in addition to the command-line interface, this version also has an Integrated Scripting Environment, which is an integrated GUI that can be used to easily create Windows PowerShell scripts. Windows PowerShell 2.0 is also integrated with Windows Remote Management (WS-MAN), making it possible to use Windows PowerShell to remotely manage your Exchange 2010 environment using the standard HTTPS protocol. All that’s needed is a workstation or a server that has Windows PowerShell 2.0 installed on the workstation.

Even the EMC uses the EMS, so there are some functions that aren’t available in the console but are available in the shell, such as Attachment Filtering in the anti-spam options. As the EMS is the primary management tool in Exchange Server 2010 (as it was in Exchange Server 2007), this development direction may hurt a little bit if you’re a die-hard GUI administrator.

When the EMS is started, you’ll basically see an empty box with just a command prompt—exactly like the Windows command prompt. You can get a list of all available commands at this stage by entering Get-Command.

For the benefit of those die-hard GUI administrators, a Windows PowerShell command consists of two parts: a noun and a verb. Verbs can be instructions like get, set, new, remove, enable, disable and so on, and the noun component can be any object in Exchange Server. Just combine the noun and the verb like this:

  • Get-ExchangeServer: Retrieves a list of all Exchange 2010 Servers in the organization.
  • Set-MailboxDatabase: Sets a property on a Mailbox Database.
  • New-Mailbox: Creates a new mailbox-enabled User.
  • Remove-Mailbox: Deletes a user object and its mailbox.

Besides the EMS, there’s also the Windows 2008 Windows PowerShell on your server or workstation. If you start Windows PowerShell instead of the EMS, you’ll see a command prompt with a blue background, and the Exchange Server 2010 cmdlets won’t be available. If you’re new to Windows PowerShell and the EMS, there will be a day when you start the wrong shell.

If there’s anything you’re not sure about when you’re using the EMS, you have a friend in the form of the Quick Reference Guide, located in C:\Program Files\Microsoft\ExchangeServer\v14\bin\en\ExQuick.htm. This contains the most important and most-used cmdlets, and their variables.

If you need help on the fly, it’s also possible to use the shell’s built-in help function. For a list of all available help items, just type “help *.” If you need help about a specific cmdlet, type “help” and the name of the cmdlet. To get help about mail-enabling an existing user, for example, type “help enable-mailbox.”

Exchange Management Console

The EMC is the GUI for managing the Exchange Server 2010 environment. The EMC is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) 3.0 snap-in and consists of several panes:

  • Navigation Pane: This is the left-hand pane where the Exchange Organization is visible, and it features different leaves like the Organization Configuration, the Server Configuration, the Recipient Configuration and the Toolbox.
  • Results Pane: This is the middle pane where the results about the selection in the Navigation Pane are visible.
  • Actions Pane: This is the right-hand pane, where actions that need to be performed against the selections made in the other two panes are chosen.

When the Organization Configuration in the Navigation Pane is selected, the organization-wide configuration of the Exchange Organization can be managed, which all the Exchange servers in the entire organization will share. In the Organizational Configuration, information can be set, for example, about Send Connectors, Accepted Domains, Email Address Policies, Database Availability Group, Mailboxes and so on. The Server Configuration in the Navigation pane contains all the server-specific configuration options, such as a particular server’s Receive Connectors, Outlook Web App settings or Outlook Anywhere settings.

Finally, the Recipient Configuration contains all configuration options regarding the following recipients:

  • Mailbox
  • Disconnected Mailbox
  • Distribution Group
  • Move Request
  • Mail Contact

Windows PowerShell and the EMC

The easiest way to learn the Windows PowerShell commands that manage Exchange Server 2010 is to remember that, because the EMC is written on top of the EMS, every action in the EMC is translated to an EMS command. This is important because it’s possible to take an action in the EMC and then see its Windows PowerShell equivalent.

For example, to mail-enable a user in the EMC:

  1. In the Navigation Pane, select the Recipients configuration and select Mailbox. In the Actions pane select New Mailbox.
  2. In the New Mailbox Wizard select “User Mailbox,” and then click Next.
  3. In the User Type Windows, select “Existing user” and click the Add button. Select an available user object (this user object must be already created) and click OK. Click Next to continue.
  4. In the Mailbox Settings Windows, enter an appropriate alias for the new mailbox. Click Next to continue.
  5. In the New Mailbox window verify the configuration that’s entered and click New to create the new mailbox.

All of the configuration information that you’ve just entered is being translated to an EMS command on the fly, and this command is then executed. In the lower part of the dialog window you’ll see “To copy the contents of this page, press CTRL+C.” If you press CTRL+C, the contents of this dialog are copied to the Windows clipboard, which contains the following:

Summary: 1 item(s). 1 succeeded, 0 failed.
Elapsed time: 00:00:02
Michael Francis
Exchange Management Shell command completed:
Enable-Mailbox -Identity 'E2010.local/Accounts/Exchange14/Michael Francis'
-Alias 'michael'
Elapsed Time: 00:00:02

This is the actual command that was executed, and this is by far the easiest way to learn the Windows PowerShell commands.

Evolution of the Exchange Management Console

If you’re familiar with Exchange Server 2007, the EMC should be familiar as well. There are some changes, though, primarily because of architectural changes in Exchange Server 2010. Mailbox Databases, for example, are not on the server level as in Exchange Server 2007, but on the organization level. For managing the Mailbox Database, the Organization Configuration now needs to be selected instead of the Server Configuration (as is the case in Exchange Server 2007).

Because Mailbox Databases are on the organization level, individual Mailbox Database names must be unique across the entire organization. This is the reason why default Mailbox Databases are created with names like “Mailbox Database 0889073255” and “Mailbox Database 1563944384.”

A new feature in the EMC is the option to manage multiple Exchange organizations in a single console. If you open the EMC, the Exchange On-Premises organization of which the Exchange Server is a member is shown by default.

In the Actions Pane, click “Add Exchange forest” and enter the Fully Qualified Domain Name, or FQDN, of another Exchange organization to which you have access. Enter the proper credentials, and two separate Exchange organizations can be managed at once from a single console.

The ability to manage multiple locations and multiple organizations is one of the things that Exchange Server 2010 now does very well.

Jaap Wesselius

Jaap Wesselius is the founder of DM Consultants, a company with a strong focus on messaging and collaboration solutions. After working at Microsoft for eight years, Wesselius decided to commit more of his time to the Exchange community in the Netherlands, resulting in an Exchange Server MVP award in 2007. Wesselius is also a regular contributor at the Dutch Unified Communications User Group and a regular author for Simple-Talk.

Learn more about “Exchange 2010 - A Practical Approach” at