Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 : Email Integration (part 2) - Configuring Incoming Email

2/7/2014 2:11:13 AM

2. Configuring Incoming Email

SharePoint's incoming email delivery is a convenient way to send a message and its attachments to a list or library. This email could originate from within the organization or outside it. Let's look at a few examples of how you can use this feature.

A Human Resources department would like to have all resumes that are emailed to the company be automatically stored in a Resumes document library. (An added bonus is that you can also start a workflow when a new resume is received!)

SharePoint has a list type called a discussion board that allows you to have threaded discussions. However, most teams just use email since it's so much easier and faster. The drawback with this is trying to organize and track all the emails in a thread. Having an email message automatically stored in a discussion board gives you the best of both worlds.

When you send a meeting request from Outlook, you can include a SharePoint calendar as one of the attendees. When SharePoint receives the message, it will nicely store it as a new calendar entry, ensuring that your Outlook and SharePoint calendars are consistent.

Archiving email is a challenge in many organizations. Using a document policy in SharePoint, you can define and apply retention rules to items in a list or library. This policy can then archive the items in a records management system. By simply including the document library as a recipient in an email message, you ensure that SharePoint will store and manage the message as a record.

Now that you have an idea of the value of having SharePoint receive incoming messages, let's look at how this works at a high level. When Exchange receives a message intended for SharePoint, a send connector forwards it to a SMTP service running on a SharePoint web server. From here, SharePoint matches it up to the corresponding list or library and creates a new item for it.

Configuring incoming email is a four-step process:

  1. Enable incoming email in SharePoint.

  2. Install the SMTP service on one of the SharePoint web servers.

  3. Configure Exchange to forward messages to SharePoint.

  4. Specify which lists and libraries will be email enabled.

To enable incoming email in SharePoint, select the Operations tab and click Incoming Email Settings. You will then be prompted with the screen shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Configuring incoming email

Are You an Administrator?

To configure incoming email, you must be logged in using an account that is a member of the local administrators group on the SharePoint server hosting the central administration website. If you do not see this link on the Operations tab, this is the most likely reason.

On this screen, you have several options. In most cases, you'll want to use Automatic settings, which means that SharePoint will work with an SMTP service.

Directory Management Service is not required for basic incoming email, so you can set this option to No if you prefer. This will be covered in more detail later.

You then specify what the fully qualified domain name should be. We recommend that you prefix a subdomain name to your current domain. For example, if your domain is synergy.com, use moss.synergy.com. There are two primary reasons for this:

  • In the event you have multiple SharePoint farms and want to keep each with separate settings

  • To simplify the routing of the message from Exchange to SharePoint

The final setting allows you to define safe email servers. The purpose of this is to set designated SMTP servers (in this case Exchange) that are able to route to SharePoint. This helps ensure that spam or other rogue messages cannot be delivered into SharePoint. This section requires one or more IP addresses, and you should specify the Exchange server(s) that are able to forward mail to SharePoint.

The second step is to install the SMTP service on at least one your SharePoint web servers. If you have multiple web servers using network load balancing for your web applications, you can load-balance the SMTP service as well. For each server where you have installed the service, make sure you create an SMTP domain that matches the fully qualified domain name that SharePoint will be using (for example, moss.synergy.com). In most cases, you can just edit the Local (Default) domain entry that's created for you.

The third step is to configure Exchange to forward messages on to SharePoint. This is where we use a send connector. The send connector is responsible for identifying those messages that are destined for SharePoint and forwarding them to a designated SMTP server. Here is how to set it up:

  1. In Exchange Management Console, expand through Organization Configuration and select Hub Transport.

  2. In the Actions pane, click New Send Connector. This will launch a wizard.

  3. Give the connector an appropriate name—for example, SharePoint.

  4. For Address Space, click Add. In the dialog box, enter in the fully qualified domain name that you configured for SharePoint—for example, moss.synergy.com.

  5. For Network Settings, select Route Mail Through The Following Smart Hosts and click Add. Enter either the IP address or a resolvable fully qualified domain name that directs Exchange to SharePoint's SMTP server.

  6. For Smart Host Authentication, accept the default of None.

  7. For Source Server, ensure that your Exchange server name is listed.

The final settings should resemble the summary screen shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Exchange send connector summary

Creating MX Records

When delivering email to SharePoint, you can also create a new MX record in your DNS server. The record would point to the SharePoint SMTP server. The result is that all email would now go directly to SharePoint, bypassing Exchange. While this may sound easier, doing this would cause you to lose all the great Exchange benefits, such as spam filtering, antivirus protection, and logging. Thus, it is best to have Exchange be the routing agent for all email.

The fourth and final step is to define which list or libraries are configured to receive incoming mail. You set this by going to the list or library settings from the Settings menu, as shown in Figure 4.

On the Settings screen, click the Incoming Email Settings link in the Communications group in the upper-right part of the screen. If you do not see this link, this means either you did not enable incoming email as shown earlier or this type of list or library does not support incoming email. Contacts, tasks, custom lists, and a few others do not support incoming email.

Figure 4. Document library settings menu

Figure 5 shows the incoming email configuration screen for a document library.

Figure 5. Incoming email settings for a document library

You may have slightly different settings depending on the type of list or library. Let's walk through some of the settings for a document library.

The email address is where you specify the alias for this one list or library. You'll notice that it automatically adds the domain name you specified when you enabled incoming email in Central Administration.

When the message and/or attachments are stored in this list or library, you have some options. For a document library, you can store all attachments in the root folder, group them in folders based on the subject, or group them in folders by the sender. Storing attachments in the root folder works fine for small libraries but is ill-suited for heavily used ones. Grouping by subject works well, but if there is no subject specified in the email, the folder name will become a random GUID. Grouping by sender will create a folder based on the name and email address of each unique sender.

For all three choices, you can specify whether or not you want to overwrite files with the same filename. If you choose to not overwrite, and the same filename exists, a random number will be appended to the filename to make it unique.

If you save the original email, the message is stored in an .eml file that will be saved in the same folder as the attachment. This allows you the open the original message using Outlook Express.

In your email security policy, you can restrict access to only users who have permissions to add files to the document library. (In SharePoint, this is granted with the Contribute permission.) Restricting access this way is the default setting and SharePoint will check to see if the sender has permission. If not, the email and its attachments are not stored.

These are the basic settings to configure incoming email and have it delivered to a list or library. Let's now discuss some more advanced options using the Directory Management Service.
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