I think if everyone could afford to do it than I would think you would get alot more responses. Renderfarms are not cheap especially when mental ray gets tossed into the mix. Just to get a mental ray farm you must purchase a lic per proc, which will roughly cost you 1000 bucks for each proc. This does not even include the machine.
To answer the monitoring question I think many renderfarn useres use there own app or something like muster or renderpal