Within an organization, collaboration between two or more
parties is essential. If two individuals are exchanging
information, e-mail is a suitable format. When more than two
individuals are involved, a discussion format is more appropriate.
However, when users need to access documents and files for a
working project, public folders provide an ideal solution.
A public folder stores messages or information that can be
shared among users in your organization. Public folders can contain
different types of information, ranging from custom forms to
Internet content stored in its native format. Public folders are a
part of the information store that Exchange clients, Web browsers,
and custom applications can access. Access to folders can be
controlled by setting permissions and optimized by replicating
folders to other servers in your organization.
Public folders include many features that make Exchange a
complete collaboration server:
Multiple store support. The public folder hierarchy can
be configured into smaller logical units to reflect departments in
an organization. In addition to the default public folder
hierarchy, you can create other top-level folder hierarchies. Each
folder hierarchy is represented by its own database in the
information store. The information store supports multiple public
stores running under a single process. Multiple stores increase
scalability by allowing you to segment the folder data and
distribute it across servers in your organization.
Web exposure. Each public folder has an HTML page
associated with it. When a folder is created, Exchange
automatically creates a default HTML page. You can replace the
automatically generated Web page with a custom page or you can
change the URL to point to another Web site. In addition to the
folder container, all contents within a folder are exposed by a
dynamically generated URL.
Replication. A public folder can be configured to have
copies on multiple servers. Replicas are useful for distributing
the user load on servers, distributing public folders across
geographical areas, and backing up public folder data. You can set
up a replication schedule based on how often data in the public
folder changes. You can set this schedule for all public folders or
for a specific public folder.
Affinity. When a client must use an alternate server to
access public folder content, Exchange uses a routing
group that is configured to refer the client to another
server. This allows the client to access content when a specific
server is not known. It also eliminates the need for a cost-based
referral list. Because routing groups are intended to serve as
collections of well-connected servers, the connections between all
servers in a routing group are likely to be of the same