We also do bit of this, but you could encourage your ops team to do more than just ping.
Powershell and other tools can query the resource, but you need to query both login agent and runtime if you want to work on it to perfection.
http://<your.resouce.com>:8180/status <-- LoginAgent port. Runtime is normally 8181 if you did not change.
would respond something:
Total running: 0
The thing we did not figure out yet is how to cope with things like reboots, patch windows etc. "False positives" BR,Håkan