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Unified Messaging (Voicemail) in Exchange 2010

A Simplified Guide to Install Voicemail in Exchange 2010

With the release of Exchange 2007, Microsoft included voicemail as one of the core components of the product, and as a v1.0 technology, we didn’t have a lot of organizations choose to implement the Exchange 2007 voicemail.  However with the release of Exchange 2010  and the inclusion of core features in the Exchange update, we’ve been implementing more Unified Messaging servers that we have ever done in the past.

Technologically, the voicemail in Exchange 2010 now works and provides similar capabilities in the best voicemail systems on the market, so Exchange 2010 voicemail is technologically “as good” as what else is available.  However a couple strong reasons for organizations implementing Exchange 2010 voicemail include:

  1. Voice to Text Conversion:  This is a really slick feature in Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging where effectively your voicemail messages are converted to text and the text is included as part of the saved message.  So when you get an attachment that has your voicemail attached, there is already a transcription of the message.  This is particularly handy when you are remote and get a voicemail message, instead of having to call back to the voicemail system to listen to the message, you can simply glance at the text and read who the message is from and the gist if not the entire message.

  2. Voicemail Redundancy:  Another core reason we’ve been implementing a number of Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging systems is that the Exchange Unified Messaging server “follows” the Exchange mailbox for the user.  With the new Database Availability Groups and the ability for an organization to have up to 16-copies of a user’s mailbox for high availability and fault tolerance, the voicemail system needs to keep up with the location of the user’s mailbox.  Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging does that whereas many 3rd party voicemail add-ins to Exchange do not.

So with features that are similar to other voicemail systems along with the voice to text conversion function and the ability for Exchange 2010 voicemails to follow the user's mailbox in DR scenarios, Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging servers are common in our standard implementations of Exchange 2010 these days.

The following are excerpts from my book “Exchange 2010 Unleashed” on the step by step installation of Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging.

Installing the Unified Messaging Role

The first step is to install the Unified Messaging role. This procedure assumes that the Exchange Server 2010 server has already been installed. To add the Unified Messaging server role, complete the following steps:

  1. In Control Panel, select Programs and Features.

  2. Select Microsoft Exchange Server 2010.

  3. Click the Change button to enter Exchange Maintenance mode.

  4. Click Next.

  5. Select the Unified Messaging Role check box and click Next.

  6. The installer conducts readiness checks.

  7. Click the Install button to install the Unified Messaging server role. 

  8. After the installation has successfully completed, click Finish.

The basic software has been installed, but the UM server needs to be configured post-installation to function properly.

Postinstall Configuration

After the server has the Unified Messaging server role installed, you need to complete several postinstall configuration tasks for a basic installation:

  1. Create a UM dial plan.

  2. Associate subscriber access numbers.

  3. Create a UM IP gateway.

  4. Associate the UM server with the dial plan.

  5. Create a UM Auto Attendant.

  6. Create the hunt groups.

  7. Enable mailboxes for UM.

  8. Test functionality.

Following these tasks results in a functioning Exchange Server 2010 Unified Messaging system. The remainder of this section details the installation steps for each task.

Creating a UM Dial Plan

The first task is to create the central organizing element of the Exchange Server 2010 UM infrastructure—the dial plan shown below:

To create a dial plan, execute the following steps:

  1. Launch the Exchange Management Console.

  2. Under the Organization Configuration folder, select the Unified Messaging container.

  3. Select the UM Dial Plan tab.

  4. In the Action menu, select New UM Dial Plan.

  5. Enter the dial plan name, such as SFO Dial Plan.

  6. Enter the number of digits in the PBX extensions, such as 3.

  7. Enter the Country/Region code, such as 1 for the United States.

  8. Click New to create the UM dial plan.

  9. Click Finish to close the wizard.

The newly created dial plan should be shown in the results pane. Notice that the default mailbox policy (SFO Dial Plan Default Policy) was automatically created at the same time.

Associating Subscriber Access Numbers

For subscribers to access their mailbox, one or more subscriber access numbers must be specified in the dial plan. This should be the pilot number for the PBX hunt group that the subscribers will use.

To associate a subscriber access extension to the dial plan, execute the following steps:

  1. Launch the Exchange Management Console.

  2. Under the Organization Configuration folder, select the Unified Messaging container.

  3. Select the UM Dial Plan tab.

  4. Select the dial plan in the results pane, such as SFO Dial Plan.

  5. In the Action menu, select Properties.

  6. Select the Subscriber Access tab.

  7. Enter the extension that subscribers will use to access their mailboxes, such as 333.

  8. Click Add.

  9. Click OK to close the window.

The UM server will now recognize that subscribers will use the extension to access their mailboxes.

Creating a UM IP Gateway

The next task is to create an UM IP gateway to link the dial plan with the IP/VoIP gateway and the PBX.

To create the UM IP gateway, execute the following steps:

  1. Launch the Exchange Management Console.

  2. Under the Organization Configuration folder, select the Unified Messaging container.

  3. Select the UM IP Gateway tab.

  4. In the Action pane, click New UM IP Gateway.

  5. Enter the IP gateway name, such as SFO IP Gateway.

  6. Enter the IP address for the IP gateway, such as 192.168.1.4

  7. Click Browse.

  8. Select a dial plan to associate the IP gateway with, such as the SFO Dial Plan.

  9. This also creates a default hunt group (which will be deleted later).

  10. Click OK.

  11. Click New to create the UM IP gateway.

  12. Click Finish to close the wizard.

The newly created UM IP gateway should be shown in the results pane. The default hunt group will be removed and a new one created in a later task.

Associating the UM Server with the Dial Plan

The dial plan needs to be associated with the UM server that was installed in the first task. This eventually causes the UM server to register with the IP/VoIP gateway to receive calls.

To associate the UM server with the new dial plan, execute the following steps:

  1. Launch the Exchange Management Console.

  2. Under the Server Configuration folder, select the Unified Messaging container.

  3. Select the Unified Messaging server.

  4. In the actions pane, click Properties.

  5. Select the UM Settings tab.

  6. Click Add.

  7. Select the dial plan to associate, such as the SFO Dial Plan.

  8. Click OK.

  9. Click OK to close the Properties dialog box

The pilot number will now be associated to the dial plan for subscriber access.

Create a Unified Messaging Auto Attendant

For the UM server to answer callers, a UM Auto Attendant must be created and associated with a dial plan. This allows incoming calls to be answered and directed to the appropriate voice mailbox.

To create an Auto Attendant and associate it with a dial plan, execute the following tasks:

  1. Launch the Exchange Management Console.

  2. Under the Organization Configuration folder, select the Unified Messaging container.

  3. Select the UM Auto Attendants tab.

  4. In the actions pane, click New UM Auto Attendant.

  5. Enter the name of the Auto Attendant, such as SFO Auto Attendant.

  6. Click Browse.

  7. Select a dial plan, such as the SFO Dial Plan.

  8. Click OK.

  9. Enter the pilot extension number, such as 222, and click Add.

  10. Check the Create Auto Attendant as Enabled check box.

  11. Check the Create Auto Attendant as Speech-Enabled check box.  If you want the Auto Attendant to accept voice commands.

  12. Click New.

  13. Click Finish to close the wizard.

The newly created auto attendant should be shown in the results pane.

NOTE:  If the Auto Attendant is created as speech-enabled, a secondary fallback Auto Attendant that is not speech-enabled should be created and that option configured on the primary Auto Attendant. If a user cannot use voice commands, he can use DTMF commands on the secondary Auto Attendant.

Although the speech-enabled auto-attendant accepts DTMF commands, the user is not notified this is possible unless a DTMF fallback auto attendant is configured.

Creating the Hunt Groups

The default hunt group that is created with the UM IP gateway does not contain a pilot number. To have the system handle incoming calls correctly, the default hunt group should be deleted and new ones created for the caller and subscriber hunt groups.

To accomplish the creation of the hunt groups, execute the following steps:

  1. Launch the Exchange Management Console.

  2. Under the Organization Configuration folder, select the Unified Messaging

  3. container.

  4. Select the UM IP Gateway tab.

  5. Select the Default Hunt Group in the results pane.

  6. In the actions pane, under the section for the selected hunt group, click Remove.

  7. At the prompt, click Yes.

  8. Select the UM IP gateway, such as SFO IP Gateway.

  9. In the actions pane, click New UM Hunt Group.

  10. Enter the caller hunt group name, such as SFO Caller Hunt Group.

  11. Click Browse.

  12. Select the dial plan to associate, such as SFO Dial Plan.

  13. Click OK.

  14. Enter the hunt group pilot number, such as 222.

  15. Click New.

  16. Click Finish.

  17. Repeat steps 7 through 14, using SFO Subscriber Hunt Group as the name and 333 as the hunt group pilot.

The result of the configuration is shown below, including the new hunt groups.

The system is now configured and ready for the final configuration step in the basic configuration—the enabling of a user for unified messaging.

Enabling Mailboxes for UM

The last task is to enable a user’s mailbox. This associates the user with a mailbox policy and, therefore, to the rest of the unified messaging infrastructure.

To enable a user, execute the following steps:

  1. Launch the Exchange Management Console.

  2. Under the Recipient Configuration folder, select the Mailbox folder.

  3. In the results pane, select the user to be enabled.

  4. In the actions pane, select Enable Unified Messaging.

  5. Click Browse.

  6. Select the UM policy, such as the SFO Dial Plan Default Policy.

  7. Click OK.

  8. Click Next.

  9. Enter the extension, such as 100

  10. Click Next.

  11. Click Enable.

  12. Click Finish to close the wizard.

A simple welcome email message with the extension and their confidential PIN will be automatically sent to their Exchange Server mailbox.

Hopefully this gives you a little snapshot of the implementation process of putting Exchange 2010 Unified Messaging into an Exchange environment and the steps necessary to configure the Unified Messaging role.  This is definitely a feature worth working with and getting familiar, it’s something that we’re implementing more and more often these days.

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