How to Implement Exchange Address Book Policies

By Steve Goodman,

Past versions of Exchange Server included a feature known as GAL segregation. GAL segregation is implemented by setting custom permissions against Active Directory and allows administrators to segment their global address list. Doing so gives different groups of users specified views of other users in the organization. Although well-documented, configuring GAL segregation was not an easy process.

Included in the Exchange 2010 SP2 release -- and in Exchange 2013 -- address book policies offer that same functionality, though things have been simplified.

Where to use address book policies

Address book policies (ABPs) are relatively easy to implement, but aren't appropriate for all organizations. Let's see where they make sense.

Companies with multiple divisions
If your organization has multiple divisions that operate independently, one division may have no reason to deal with another on a day-to-day basis. Having one massive global address list (GAL) only serves to confuse end users. Administrators in these companies should consider address book policies for each division, with the corporate group maintaining full visibility over the entire company

Colleges, universities and school districts
While educational institutions often have tens of thousands of mailboxes, it's common that they have multiple sections that operate independently.

Each institution's approach will differ, but consider the following example. University students within each school of study can view a GAL with fellow students, professors and staff within their respective school. Similarly, staff can view a GAL with students, fellow professors and relevant staff within the administrative departments.

The administrative departments may only need to contact general staff and might have trouble identifying staff mixed in with students. It makes sense here to have a GAL that is only comprised of staff.

It's possible to set up a number of address book policies where no single user has a view of everyone, yet staff members are present within multiple GALs.

Multi-tenant environments
Address book policies also make a lot of sense for multi-tenant environments. This certainly isn't the focus of this tip, because there are many more considerations around hosted environments than simply GAL segregation, but it's worth mentioning.

In a hosted configuration, an end user likely isn't aware that he is one of many sharing a common Exchange environment. Therefore, it's unlikely that the end user would be present within multiple GALs. The one ABP per company model is often used in these types of situations.


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