Happy New Year! This is my first post of 2009 on the Offline SharePoint blog and the fifth in a guest series I’m doing here on “The Myths & Truths of Email Management with SharePoint.”. My last post was on SharePoint email-enabled lists.
The subject of this post is Managed Folders. Managed Folders were introduced in Exchange 2007 to provide administrators with an easy way for users to archive email. Any Managed Folder can be configured such that all emails sent to it are routed to SharePoint. It’s an incredibly insightful feature and when implemented properly can reduce mailbox sizes, while capturing the intended emails and attachments. When not implemented properly, Managed Folders can be abused, causing SharePoint to become a dumping ground.
One poor example of managed folder design could be a managed folder called “Keep.” If everyone is told to put their email in that one folder and it’s archived to SharePoint, it sounds like a perfect solution for email archiving. However, there are some serious drawbacks. First, scale is an issue. Putting all that junk into one list can overwhelm SharePoint since it doesn’t scale well to support millions of items in one list, especially if there is a single view. Second, what about the security of that list? Managed Folders require extensive administrative set-up. It’s an IT option in Exchange, not a feature that is end user configurable.
So what does a good Managed Folder design look like? An example might be a folder titled “Legal Hold,” which is used to archive items under legal hold because of an investigation or other circumstance. On the SharePoint side, a specific document library is set-up and secured, then a legal site administrator is responsible for any tagging and for managing the views for the LCA team. A special search view might be set-up with specific indexed columns to support a quick and easy search. To avoid performance problems, avoid the “All items” view. I’ll discuss performance issues related to SharePoint list scalability next.
Truth: Managed Folders can work well, but require a solid information architecture design & trained administrators who understand how to manage scalability.