Designing and Configuring Unified Messaging in Exchange Server 2010 : Unified Messaging Architecture (part 2)

2/24/2011 12:54:13 PM

Auto Attendant Objects

The auto attendant provides an automated phone answering function, essentially replicating a human secretary. The auto attendant answers the incoming calls, provides helpful prompts, and directs the caller to the appropriate services. The UM auto attendant objects can be found in the Exchange Management Console on the UM Auto Attendant tab of the Organization, Unified Messaging container.

The auto attendant supports both phone key press (DTMF) and voice commands. This sophisticated voice recognition technology allows the caller to navigate the menus and prompts with nothing more than their voice if they want to.

The auto attendant objects support the following configurable features:

  • Customized greetings and menus for business hours and nonbusiness hours

  • Predefined and custom schedule to specify business hours and time zone

  • Holiday schedule for exceptions to the business hour schedule

  • Operator extension and allowing transfer to operator during business and nonbusiness hours

  • Key mapping to enable the transfer of callers to specific extensions or other auto attendants based on hard-coded key presses or voice commands.


Everyone has felt the frustration of moving through an automated call system and not being able to reach an operator or a live person. With unified messaging, the Exchange Server administrator now has control over that behavior.

The auto attendant can allow or disallow transfer to the operator by specifically allowing or disallowing transfer to the operator during business and nonbusiness hours.

The author’s recommendation is to allow transfers to the operator at least during business hours to reduce caller frustration.

Each auto attendant can be mapped to specific extensions to provide a customized set of prompts. For example, an organization could set up one auto attendant to support the sales organization calls with specific prompts for handling calls to sales. The organization could then set up a second auto attendant to support the service organization with specific prompts for technical support and help. These would service different pilot numbers, depending on the number that the caller used.

A front-end menu can be created with key mapping and an auto attendant with customized prompts. This allows the organization in the previous example to create a top-level auto attendant that would prompt callers to “Press or say 1 for Sales or 2 for Service” and then perform the appropriate transfer. Figure 2 shows the key mapping configuration, which would be accompanied by customized prompts.

Figure 2. Key mapping example.

The initial greeting can be customized as well. There are two default greetings, one for business hours and a second for off-hours. By default the system says Welcome to Microsoft Exchange Server. In most implementations you want to customize this to your company name and include other relevant information. Customized greetings must be in a specific format. They must be saved as PCM/16bit/8kHz/Mono .WAV files. Each auto attendant can have a unique set of customized greetings and prompts.

There is no limit to the number of auto attendants that can be created in Active Directory. An auto attendant can only be associated with a single dial plan, though a dial plan can be associated with multiple auto attendants.

Unified Messaging Server Objects

In Active Directory, the Unified Messaging server object is a logical representation of the physical Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging server. The UM server objects can be found in the Exchange Management Console in the Server Configuration, Unified Messaging container.

The Microsoft Exchange Unified Messaging service (umservice.exe) is the service that instantiates the unified messaging functionality that runs under the Local System account. It is dependent on the Microsoft Exchange Active Directory Topology service and the Microsoft Exchange Speech Engine service.

The major configuration task for the Unified Messaging server object is to specify the associated dial plans, of which there can be more than one. The Unified Messaging server must be associated with a dial plan to function. The other configurable parameters for the service are the maximum concurrent calls (default is 100) and maximum concurrent faxes (default is 100).

The Unified Messaging server checks for changes when the service is started and every 10 minutes thereafter. Changes take effect as soon as they are detected by the server.

After determining the dial plans for which it is associated, the server then locates and establishes communications with the appropriate IP/VoIP gateways.

Much like the UM IP gateway, the Unified Messaging server is created as enabled. The server can be disabled via the Exchange Management Console or via the Exchange Management Shell for graceful shutdown or maintenance. This can be executed either immediately (which disconnects any current calls) or by specifying to disable after completing calls. The latter mode disables the server for any new calls but does not disconnect any current calls. Any current calls will be allowed to complete.

Unified Messaging Users

There is actually not an Active Directory object for unified messaging users. Rather, the unified messaging properties are stored in the Active Directory user account and the Exchange Server 2010 mailbox. Voice mail messages and fax mail messages are stored in the user’s mailbox.

These properties can be found in the Exchange Management Console in the properties of the user’s account in the Recipient Configuration, Mailbox folder. Within the user account properties, the unified messaging settings are under the Mailbox Features tab in the properties of the Unified Messaging feature. After navigating to the Unified Messaging feature, the properties button is clicked to access the feature properties.

When enabling a user for unified messaging, the associated UM mailbox policy and extension must be specified. The link to the mailbox policy provides a one-to-one link to the UM dial plan.

The user’s mailbox quotas apply to both voice mail messages and fax messages. If the user’s quota settings prevent the user from receiving email (that is, the user’s mailbox is full), then unified messaging functionality will be impacted. Callers attempting to leave a message will not be allowed to leave a message and will be informed that the user’s mailbox is full.


Interestingly, if a user’s mailbox is almost full, a caller will be allowed to leave a message for the user even if that message will cause the mailbox to exceed its quota. For example, consider a user who only has 25KB before they exceed their quota and are prevented from receiving messages. A caller could leave a minute long 100-KB voice message. However, the next caller would not be able to leave a message for the user.

Exchange Server 2010 unified messaging includes a number of features to control the size of voice mail messages to help control the storage impacts.

UM Web Services

A component that is not represented in Active Directory is the UM Web Services. This is a web service that is installed on Exchange Server 2010 servers that have the Client Access role.

The service is used for the following:

  • Play on Phone Feature for both Outlook Server 2010 and Exchange Server 2010 Outlook Web App

  • PIN Reset feature in Exchange Server 2010 Outlook Web App

This service requires that at least one Exchange Server 2010 server run the Client Access, Hub Transport, and mailbox server roles in addition to the Unified Messaging role.

  •  Designing and Configuring Unified Messaging in Exchange Server 2010 : Unified Messaging Features
  •  Exploring Sample Virtualized SharePoint 2010 Architecture
  •  Virtualizing SharePoint Components : Virtualization of SharePoint Roles
  •  Monitoring a SharePoint 2010 Environment : Establishing Maintenance Schedules for SharePoint
  •  Using System Center Operations Manager to Simplify Management of SharePoint 2010
  •  Designing and Implementing Mobility in Exchange Server 2010 : Working with Windows Mobile Pocket PC and Smartphone Editions
  •  Designing and Implementing Mobility in Exchange Server 2010 : Working with ActiveSync Policies
  •  Designing and Implementing Mobility in Exchange Server 2010 : Securing Access to ActiveSync Using Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2006
  •  Monitoring a SharePoint 2010 Environment : Understanding Timer Jobs for SharePoint 2010
  •  Monitoring a SharePoint 2010 Environment : Using SharePoint’s Native Reporting Capabilities
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