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How to implement Microsoft Exchange 2013/2016

The Officebooking platform enables you to share your company resources and make them available for booking by your users or employees. We support a number of interaction or touch points for end users including web, mobile and interactive signage solutions. This way your users are supported throughout their complete journey.

This start-up guide will walk you through the process to set up synchronization with Microsoft Exchange 2013 or Exchange 2016.

Before you get started

Before you can start implementing you’ll need to set up a company admin account in OfficeAdmin and have access to that account. Please contact us if you need support in creating a company account.

To implement the integration for Exchange, you only need to follow a couple of simple steps to prepare yourself on the Exchange side. Before you begin make sure you have administrator-level access to your existing Exchange and Officebooking environment OfficeAdmin. By following the steps in this guide you will:

– Add resource calendars in Exchange
– Update synchronization details in Officebooking
– Configure the Exchange Web Services connection
– Test the integrated synchronized workflow

If you need any help going through this process, please contact our Officebooking support center for further assistance.

Step 1 Add resource mailboxes for rooms you want to synchronize (Microsoft admin center)

Login to your Exchange admin center with your Exchange administrator credentials.

In the main menu, select Resources. Select the button + Add resource and enter resource specifics.

Using the Exchange admin center, add Room mailboxes.

The minimum required information per room is the name and the email address of the room. Enter the details like for example: name = Boardroom I, email address = boardroom369@wilderman.nl, location = Puntegaal (name of your workspace) and room capacity = 8.

Pay special attention to the email address of the room. The domain (in our example @wilderman.nl) is already pre filled by Exchange. The part before the @-symbol needs to be unique for the room and is used for synchronization purposes. We use the email address as a unique identifier.

Make a note of this unique email address, as you will be required to add this to the Officebooking platform later in the next step.

Important! Make sure the option Accept or decline booking requests automatically is selected.

After selecting the More options.. button you also have the option to assign a user friendly alias for the room in addition to the more formal name “Boardroom I”. Users will be also able to search in Exchange on this alias.

Enter the Room mailbox details.
Remember to save your changes and move to the next step.

Step 2 Configure the EWS-interface

You’ll need to have Exchange Web Services (EWS) component available. This is standard for Microsoft Exchange 2013 and most other Exchange versions too. We use EWS to integrate with our Officebooking platform.

First step is we need to create user credentials on your Exchange server to log in to get access to this EWS service.

3.1 Create a new service account
For communication with your server we need to create a Officebooking service user account in your Exchange environment with delegate rights on all resources that need to be synchronized.

Use EAC to create a dedicated Service Account

First create this new service account user. Add a new generic exchange user and give it a name, for example Officebooking Service Account. Add a strong password according to your organizations password policy. Make a note of these credentials. You will need them later to activate the synchronization service.

The format of the service account name should be something like this: Service_account@yourdomain.com or yourdomain\Service_account

3.2 Give delegate access to the service account

The new service account user needs delegate access to the resources that are to be synchronized.

You may set delegation rights in the following manner:

1. Go to Exchange Admin Center
2. Select a resource and choose Edit
3. In the menu item Delegates select Select delegates who can accept or decline booking request
4. Add the service account (e.g. officebooking) user

Important! Please note that in order to be able to select the delegate user, you need to tick the Select delegates who can accept or decline booking requests option. When you’re done adding delegates please select the option Accept or decline booking requests automatically. Make sure you save the settings.

Give service account delegate access to room mailbox(es)

Go through these steps for every resource you have added.

3.3 Set up the correct title for bookings using powershell

By default, Exchange removes the title of a meeting in the subject line of the resource and display’s the organizers name. You can fix this by running a powershell command.

#Run powershell as an administrator and enter the following command:

$UserCredential = Get-Credential

#Enter your login information in the dialog

# insert your credentials you use to connect to exchange (admin user)

$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri
https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

# this opens a connection to office365 with the credentials we just specified

Import-PSSession $Session

# You’re connected

Get-Mailbox -RecipientTypeDetails RoomMailbox | Set-CalendarProcessing -AddOrganizerToSubject $false -DeleteSubject $false -DeleteComments $false

For more information please check Microsoft documentation online:

Managing Office 365 and Exchange Online with Windows PowerShell

Connect to Exchange Online using remote PowerShell

3.4 Activate synchronization

Your can activate the synchronization by signing to your Office Admin-account. Select the Company page. Scoll down to where it reads “Exchange endpoint”. Enter your EWS acces URL, username and password for the (Officebooking) service account. The username and password  will be stored (encrypted) in our database.

Do you need help? Send an e-mail to support@officebooking.net with the account data when you are done. We will activate your synchronization service for you. Remember you also need to provide us your EWS access URL i.e. https://mail.wilderman.nl/ews/Exchange.asmx, where your should replace wilderman.nl with your domain.

Step 3 Add an Exchange email address to your rooms (Officebooking)

Go to the Assets page in the OfficeAdmin. Search for the meeting room you want to add, in our example Meeting Room 1.

Select the asset and select Edit. Enter the Exchange email address. Please note: you will only be able to enter resource email addresses when the Exchange account is activated by Officebooking. In order to make the data exchange work properly for this room, we only need to add the unique resource email address we created in the previous step.

Save your changes and go to the next step.

Step 4 Testing the integrated workflow

After the EWS connection has been set up, log in to the Officebooking (mobile or web) app and create a reservation at one of the resources (meeting rooms) you’ve added.

Book a meeting room using Officebookling to test the workflow
Log in to the Officebooking app.  In our example we use the web app. Search for the asset that you want to make a test reservation for. In our example that’s Meeting Room 1. Create the reservation in the app. You can see that the reservation is added to your personal reservations list on the My Reservations page.

Now login to the calendar on Exchange as THE SAME USER. Check to see if the reservation for the meeting room (you just made in the app) was added. Remember that there is a synchronization time interval.

Important! If you run this test quickly, it is easy to forget that the user needs to exist in both your Exchange environment and the Officebooking app for the synchronization to work properly. So please make sure that the user exists in both environments and has the same email address.

Step 5 Trooble shooting

I can’t access EWS on my mail server
Check the user credentials for the generic Officebooking service account. The username should be something like this: username@yourdomain.com or yourdomain\username. If the password seems to be incorrect, try resetting the password. Remember to check your URL. It should look like this: https://mail.yourdomain.com/ews/Exchange.asmx

I still have trouble connecting to my service account on exchange? How can I test if it works?
Check connectivity using the Microsoft tool at https://testconnectivity.microsoft.com/. If you can successfully connect using this tool, you should have no trouble connecting to Officebooking.
1) Open https://testconnectivity.microsoft.com/ in your browser.
2) Select Microsoft Exchange Web Services Connectivity Tests and choose the option Service account Access
3) Enter the details of your service account and target resource mailbox (room)

4) Run the tests! If you configured it the right way it should give you the message Connectivity Test Successful. If the test fails, it will provide you with information what did and didn’t work.

More help with troubleshooting

I do not see the reservation I made (yet)
We synchronize every 3-6 minutes with your Exchange server using Exchange Web Services (EWS).
Check if the resource mail addresses are identical in both Exchange and Officebooking. Check if the settings of the resource are set to ‘bookable’.
Check if the users match. The users that create the reservation have to exist in both systems.

I activated the synchronization and now I receive cancellations, what’s wrong?
Check if the organizing user exists in both Officebooking and Exchange. If the users organizing a meeting (and booking a room), do not exist in BOTH systems (Officebooking AND Exchange), you can get cancellations. We are synchronizing after all! This typically only happens when you are migrating to a new exchange environment AND Officebooking account at the same time. Please make sure you added the relevant users to both environments first.

If for some reason your reservation request doesn’t get handled properly check your resource mailbox permissions
Login to EAC and select in (me) box (top right corner), Another User. Select the resource and hit OK.

A new screen will open and you are now able to view and change all scheduling options for the resource mailbox. On the screen you can see two separate sections: Scheduling Options and Scheduling Permissions.

When you create a new Resource calendar, the following scheduling options are created as a default.

It is important to check the option Automatically process meeting requests and cancellations. This makes sense as we do not plan to process the requests manually by a member of staff who decides on the validity of request. Furthermore we also want to allow the Officebooking service to add new reservation made by accessing the Officebooking tools.

Other options checked will be used by Exchange to validate requests. In general we recommend setting these options not to strict. Furthermore we recommend making them consistent with the general rules used to establish validity on the Officebooking platform, to avoid conflicting occupation data.

On the right side of the Settings screen we see a section called Scheduling Permissions. Below you see the default values that should be added if you create a new resource calendar. It is important to allow Everyone to schedule automatically.