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We'd like to enable end-users to be able to create and maintain their own email distribution lists in Exchange 2010, where those lists may include users inside the company but also customers, partners, etc. who are outside the company.

One of the limitations in Exchange 2007 (see this question) was that any member of a DL had to have an entry in active directory. You couldn't just take a group of email addresses (both inside and outside my company) and create an Exchange DL with those addresses without involving Active Directory admins to create entries for each external user. For a company creating hundreds of small mailing lists every month, this was an unacceptable IT expense.

So we had to use a separate mailing list solution (GNU mailman) for DLs which included external users.

Is this limitation relaxed in Exchange 2010 so we can throw away GNU mailman and use Exchange instead?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Nothing has changed in Exchange 2010 related to the management of external email addresses. You'll still need to create mail-enabled contacts for the external users if you wish to add them to distribution groups.

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Can't you create a contact entry in active directory and make that a member for the DL, or does that not satisfy your need?

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I think the OP is trying to avoid having to create contacts in AD for every external contact that will be a member of the DG. – joeqwerty May 29 '10 at 1:50
yep, it's an ease-of-use issue for end users-- I want to enable users to create and maintain their own DLs, whether or not those DL's contain external addresses. having an additional requirement to create a contact in AD increases the complexity of making self-service DL management work well. – Justin Grant Jun 1 '10 at 5:24

if you have nothing against the creation of contacts in AD, but just want the minimum hassle for users. You could create a simple self service portal where user specify the DL name to create and specify the email addresses they want part of it, in the background script or code can check each email address against AD, if its already present, it can add them into new DL if it's not present then create new contact and add that contact into DL.

You can extend that simple page for managing existing membership of DLs also.

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