Monday, November 26, 2007

Incoming E-mail functionality in Enterprise environments?

An user at the customer where I'm working at the moment asked the functional application manager of our SharePoint environment whether is was possible to enable the incoming e-mail functionality. So the question was dropped by me and I was going to investigate the matter.. I knew of the existence but never seen it live before so I googled on it and found the following useful information :

SharePoint 2007 - Incoming Email by Neil Thompson

Here's a snippet of Neil's post:

This is where I recommend you start, read all this stuff first, before you race off back to your Virtual Machines.

  1. Plan incoming e-mail (Office SharePoint Server)
  2. Configure incoming e-mail settings (Office SharePoint Server)
  3. In addition to the technet site, a very good place to start is
    1. How to configure email enabled lists in Moss2007 using Exchange 2003
    2. How to configure email enabled lists in Moss2007 using Exchange 2007
  4. Read these documents and set it up in a lab exactly as described until it works
  5. Now introduce incremental changes to the infrastructure and after each one, verify that email is still getting through, or not.

Following his advice I opened up the links and documentation and was horrified to find out that the first step in How to configure email enabled lists in Moss2007 using Exchange 2003 states "Let's get the Active Direcrory ready!". Now summing up that step I came to the following conclusion : if you want to make this work in an Exchange environment you've got to create a separate OU in AD. If my conclusion is right, it's no big deal for smaller companies where Active Directory isn't that big and some customizations can be made in an easy way and matter. But in my case, we are talking about an enterprise level customer..  Now there are several arguments why I dare not to ask the guys who administer AD to create an extra OU.

  • Farm level enabling or disabling the functionality (it's not a feature you can turn on or off on site (collection) level)
    • Given the fact we have more 600 site-collections (excluding sub-sites) you don't want to know the number of lists that could be e-mail enabled..
  • Wild growth in that particular OU we cannot manage (sizing, naming conventions, etc)
  • Wild growth in Outlook mailbox per user (forwarding rules from SharePoint to users and vice-versa)

So.. I must say it's really nifty feature.. unfortunately not very suitable in environments like these.. (or is there something I'm not aware of and I miss here?)


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Josef said...

You can use the incoming email without the AD integration if you use internal SharePoint Groups as opossed to AD integration. Then you just setup an SMTP service on one of your servers under a unique namespace (ie, and use the advanced setup option for incoming eail to specify your SMTP drop folder. This is what we chose to do to minimize the ad-hoc group creation in AD.

Robin Meuré said...

Hi Jozef,

thanks for the comment! Interesting thought about the integration!
Will look into it :)

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