One of the top reasons to try Exchange Server 2010 is “Simplified Compliance.” I have previously reviewed Online Archiving in Exchange 2010, but this article will take a first look at the Multi-Mailbox search feature.

Multi-Mailbox search is one of many features that are new in 2010 that were not previously available with Exchange 2007, requiring you to look at other products including Symantec Enterprise Vault or EMC SourceOne (Formerly called EmailXtender). I have personally implemented EMC EmailXtender and so I am enthusiastic that this type of capability is now included with Exchange, saving customers tens of thousands in software and professional services costs. As an email administrator, that is one less extra system that I need to maintain and pay software maintenance for!

Before showing the interface, it is first necessary to grant permissions to the people in your organization that are authorized to perform this type of search, ex: Human Resources. By default, no one in the organization, not even the Exchange Administrator has permission to perform this search. This is part of the new Role-based access Control (RBAC) that is also new to Exchange 2010. With RBAC, administrators can grant specific rights to users, such as records managers, compliance officers, and litigators perform multi-mailbox searches and other role-specific tasks.

For Multi-Mailbox search, users must be added to the Discovery Management global group (created during Exchange 2010 setup). Then, those users can access the Multi-mailbox search browser interface through the new web-based Exchange Control Panel [ECP]. (accessible from: webmail.mycompany.com/ecp). The ECP is also linked to the Options tab in Outlook Web App.

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When you click on the New button, the following pop-up window appears:

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You can search more than just email, including Instant Messaging conversations.

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You can narrow search results to specific e-mail addresses:

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You can specify a date range to narrow search results:

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And you can limit the mailboxes that are searched, or you can search all mailboxes

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The search name is used to name the folder in the mailbox where the search results are stored. This folder resides at the root level and contains subfolders for each user mailbox that contains results that meet the search criteria. The search results are copies of the message types that are specified in the search. If no search results are found, this folder is still created but it will be empty.

The search name also appears in the search list displayed on the Mailbox Searches tab.

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I like the option that it gives you to send an email when the search is done, as these searches can take time.

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Clicking on the Save button will automatically launch the search.
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You can create multiple searches and they will run simultaneously.

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During this time, the CPU on the server was not taxed very heavily. Here is a screen shot of the CPU utilization:

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One small bug that I found is that the status indicator does not update from ‘In Progress’ to Succeeded, so you have to look at the result pane on the right to determine when the job finishes. If you refresh the page manually (F5) then it will update properly.

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You can also just wait until you get the email notification that the search has completed.

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When you click on Results, you will get an error message that you do not have permission to open this mailbox.

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By default, the only mailbox that you can store results in is the ‘Discovery Search Mailbox.’ This is a special mailbox that is created during setup and has a 50GB quota, so that it can store very large search results. The permissions on who can view the contents of this mailbox are restricted to the following groups:

Exchange Domain Servers
Exchange Servers
Exchange Services
Exchange Trusted Subsystem
NT Authority\SELF

In most cases, it makes most sense to add the Discovery Management global group to have full permissions to this mailbox, since those are the same users that are granted permission to perform the search in the first place. Otherwise, if you want to separate the roles even further so that specific users can view the results of the search but not perform the search themselves, you can grant them access with the ‘Manage Full Access Permission’ wizard in the Exchange Management Console.

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What makes Multi-Mailbox search really powerful that it indexes voicemail transcriptions (another new feature in Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging), so you can search the content of voicemails as well!

In the example below, I searched for the word ‘Tennis’ and it found it in a test voicemail that I left for myself to test this functionality. Impressive!!!

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