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The telecommunications industry is increasingly conscious of energy consumption and the environmental footprint of its data centers. At present, more than half of energy consumption of data centers is for the power and cooling infrastructure. One energy-efficient approach, free air cooling, uses ambient air, rather than air conditioning, to cool the equipment. Free air cooling is being adopted in existing data centers where the equipment has not been designed or qualified for free air cooling regime. Traditionally, product qualification is based on industry standards that assume pre-defined environmental conditions. However, the free air cooling condition may go beyond the pre-defined conditions, furthermore, it is not practical to interrupt data center services to re-qualify installed equipment. This paper identifies the challenges posed by introducing free air cooling to the installed equipment and presents a new prognostics-based approach for evaluating and mitigating the risks.