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We have a need to maintain a list of standard company contacts (external individuals). All Exchange users should be able to see these contacts in Outlook and on their mobile phones. All users currently use ActiveSync. What solutions are available for this?

Update (Mail Contacts / Global Address List)

Although, in theory, we should be able to use Exchange Mail Contacts and access these contacts through the Global Address List (GAL), there currently seems to be limited support for using GAL contacts on various mobile devices. iPhone seems to support making calls to GAL contacts, however, Android seems to only support it in the more recent versions (ICS+?).

Are there any solutions other than using the GAL out there?

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Well, ActiveSync should be able to do this... – Bart De Vos Apr 25 '12 at 12:59
Could you elaborate? – pat o. Apr 25 '12 at 13:17
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Is there a reason why creating them as external mail contacts in Exchange doesn't meet your needs? Maybe I'm missing something but creating Mail Contacts should do this just fine. You will then get them as part of the global address list to do with what you please, and IIRC that would include pushing out to Exchange ActiveSync users.

Just tested creating a mail contact in the GAL here, it creates an alias in the GAL that you can do whatever you wish with. Looking at the test object I've just created, it includes fields for address and phone info, but I've not tested phoning that user, that's not a scenario we have here.

Having tested this, I created a mail contact and put my home email and office phone into it. Just emailed home and called work phone via an Exchange ActiveSync account on my iPhone successfully. So there's nothing fundamentally preventing it from working, its all down to how the device implements it, I guess.

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@Patrick just updated my answer with some specific testing. You've generated a bit of debate in chat and while I've demonstrated it working above, we think that what people actually see might be device specific. – RobM Apr 25 '12 at 14:03
Actually "Android vs. iPhone" is where we suspect the division lies based on our debate/testing in SF chat... Not sure if you / someone could raise this as a bug with Android's implementation of EAS because the information is clearly being published by the server if the iphone can get at it. – RobM Apr 25 '12 at 14:09
Correct - the use of GAL on a mobile phone is based on the phone it self, not Exchange. iPhone has had GAL lookup (even for calls) for a long while, while Android seems to be very random. My Samsung Galaxy SII could not use GAL for anything but e-mail until the last update.. – pauska Apr 25 '12 at 14:30
@Patrick - to address a comment to a particular person, preface it with '@' followed by their username otherwise you're just pinging the question or answer "owner" – RobM Apr 25 '12 at 14:40
Public folders are officially phased out, so I wouldn't focus on that – pauska Apr 25 '12 at 15:35

I've found the GAL contacts don't sync with personal contacts in the Exchange Mailbox, and therefore won't appear in contacts on the phone.

We use blackberries, and can use the remote lookup function to find the contact and then add them. That seems to use information from the Blackberry Enterprise Server, however, and not straight from the GAL.

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Unfortunately, the organization does not use Blackberry. We need an ActiveSync-based solution. – pat o. Apr 25 '12 at 14:36

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