We have quiet a complex public folder structure. It’s a result of combining the Exchange 5.5 orgs of 5 different shipping lines who were all heavy public folder users. The folders are distributed between 4 dedicated Exchange 2003 public folder servers in three different regions. Some of our global public folder usage is hampered by replicas so, as we have a very good WAN infrastructure, we rely on public folder referrals wherever possible.
We are working to consolidate and clean up our folders but it’s been slow going. However, the new public folder management features in Exchange 2003 SP2 have made things a whole lot easier.
The first feature that we made use of was the ability to append a user or group to the permissions on a tree of folders. Whist we try to control folder access with groups as much as possible it can sometimes be a very tedious process modifying permissions. Previously if you made a change to a top level and replicated it down it would overwrite the permissions on all folders below. Now you have the choice to add, remove or replace specific permissions. This allowed us to crate a Public Folders Admins group and assign it Owner rights to the entire folder structure.
Another feature that has helped with our consolidation is the management of replicas. In the same style as the permissions management you can add, remove or replace a replica on a tree of folders without disturbing other replicas. Watch out for content replication storms though else you may need the final feature I’m going to mention.
With SP2 you can now easily halt content replication if you find yourself subject to a content replication storm. Simply right click the very top level of your org in ESM and select ‘Stop Public Folder Content Replication’. You can then check/modify your replica settings and re-enable content replication at a more suitable time i.e. outside of business hours. You should note that using this feature this will also stop content replication between your existing replicas.
So if your organisation makes use of public folders I’d recommend upgrading to Exchange 2003 SP2 to make the management of them easier.