If you have ever had to share contacts from two different Exchange organizations on short notice, you might have tried something from the Exchange Managers handbook: Bi-nodal interorg PST transplant surgery.
Yes. I did just make that up. My apologies if you started googling for the Exchange Managers Handbook.
However on many occasions I have worked with email administrators that have performed this annoying procedure. They export contacts to a PST. Email a zip file to a subsidiary. Get told that it’s empty and have to repeat it again. You can email the zip file until Outlook is closed and you can send an email with Outlook closed.
On the other side where it’s even more painful. It is a slow and boring procedure to open mailboxes, drag and drop contacts.
If you have to share contacts both ways, it’s twice as miserable. It is painful enough that it rarely gets done and the contact information gets stale quickly. When you want to do a refresh, you have to wipe everything out and start over. Just deleting several hundred contacts from a mailbox can take quite a few minutes. It also causes quite a bit of exchange server traffic as well smartphone resync traffic.
With itrezzo UCM on premise, (or Office 365), you can easily automate this procedure. Updates are done automatically as often as you like and incremental changes at the source are incremental at the target so it’s quick and bandwidth efficient.
How to Share Outlook Contacts between two Orgs
In itrezzo UCM, there are two constructs for pushing contacts:
- MCL’s – Mandatory Contacts Lists
- CCL’s – Custom Contact Lists
If you are pushing contacts from the Global Address List, an MCL is the best method. With an MCL, you can use mail enabled groups from from Active Directory to select the members of the contact list you want to sync to your users. If a user already has a contact for a coworker, UCM will update that contact and start managing it as part of the contact list. It’s the best way to avoid duplicate contacts.
However in the example described at the top of the post, the contacts from the remote HQ GAL are presumably not in the local GAL. Thus, the prescription here is for a CCL.
A CCL can be used in almost all other cases. You can sync Outlook contacts from public folders, mailboxes, a SQL database or even a CSV. The final option (which we will use in this example) is to connect to Public Folder or mailbox contacts on a remote Exchange server.
To sync a public folder from our parent organization, we will create a Custom Contact List as shown below.
Navigate to the Unified Contact Manager container. Now select Custom Contact Lists. In the top right corner on the black and white toolbar, choose From Remote Exchange…
The Remote Exchange Dialog box is displayed:
We start by entering the name of the contact list (1). This name is used as a category on each target contact so want to keep the name precise and short.
The username (2) on the remote system does NOT need to have any particular domain or Exchange Server permissions. It is an ordinary mailbox that has REVIEWER permission on the source public folder. In that way, the parent HQ doesn’t need to create a privileged account for use outside of their immediate IT organization.
In almost all cases, EWS (Exchange Web Services) is exposed at the same URL as OWA. We will need to put the fully qualified URL (3) with the suffix /EWS/Exchange.ASMX.
Next we select Public Folder (4) at the bottom. If our credentials and URL endpoint are correct, we see the public folder hierarchy in the remote organization. Now we navigate to the desired public folder and select it.
Next click on the Targets tab (7) and you will see the dialog as shown below.
I typically recommend using a subfolder for external contacts (8). All of the target users have iPhones and they will sync contact subfolders from their Exchange Mailbox.
A subfolder (9) will automatically be created in every target mailbox. Again, it is important to use a very precise name (9). Users will see this folder on both their desktop and smartphone.
We always recommend adding a category (10) to each target contact. This makes it easier for users to see the contacts as a group.
The last and final step is to choose the target users (11) that will receive the contacts from the remote Exchange Server. We recommend that you use a collection to configure the targets.
Save the CCL and we now see contacts from remote Exchange Server in the grid.
We will also license all of the target users.
For a quick test, we will navigate to the User Statistics container and run UCM on a single user. After that completes, there will be a NY HQ subfolder in that user’s mailbox.
On the next scheduled UCM Task, all users will get the NY HQ contacts.