Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Exchange Cmdlet Extension Agents

Cmdlet Extension Agents are Exchange components that are invoked by cmdlets when the cmdlets run. These agents are available on any server role and, as the name suggests, they extend the capabilities of cmdlets that invoke them by assisting in processing data or performing additional actions based on the requirements of the cmdlet. They can be used to modify, replace or extend functionality of any Exchange cmdlet. For example, they can override a value provided by a user, perform actions outside of the cmdlet workflow, provide a value for a required parameter that was not provided, etc.

An example of such functionality is when creating a new mailbox. If an administrator does not specify a mailbox database when creating a new mailbox with Exchange 2007, the process fails. However, in Exchange 2010 and 2013, the New-Mailbox cmdlet invokes the Mailbox Resources Management agent whenever it is run. If a database is not specified, this agent automatically determines a suitable database on which to create the new mailbox and inserts that value into the Database parameter.

Note that cmdlet extension agents can only be invoked by Exchange 2010 and 2013 cmdlets as they are a feature introduced in Exchange 2010. Scripts cannot invoke these agents directly but if they contain Exchange 2010/2013 cmdlets, those cmdlets continue to call the cmdlet extension agents.

Unfortunately, cmdlet extension agents are not a well-known feature and, therefore, are often overlooked or ignored. A good example is the requirement that many organizations have to customize things immediately after creating a mailbox. They often develop custom scripts or even buy 3rd-party applications to achieve this, when cmdlet extension agents can very well be used to achieve most, if not all, these requirements.

In this article I use a particular cmdlet extension agent, called Scripting agent, in order to customize the mailbox provisioning process. Specifically, when a new mailbox is created, the agent will automatically configure archiving, permissions, Single Item Recovery, ActiveSync, other user attributes such as country and city, and send a welcome e-mail to the user.

To continue reading, please check the Cmdlet Extension Agents article on MSExchange.org.

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