I found it all kind of ridiculous, but my solution was to graduate 2 years early, not to fuck with the administration. Didn't seem worth the time or energy.
A better idea would be to create a duplicate A record, not a CNAME. CNAMEs are really meant for something else.
Although in practice, lots of people do use CNAMEs for the purpose you are suggesting.
I am more of a UNIX admin so I don't claim to be an expert on remote Windows management, but I believe the tool you're looking for is Microsoft PowerShell which allows remote WMI scripting. I've seen some pretty impressive demos of infrastructure automation using WMI and PowerShell.
For power cycling and the like, I'd go with the hardware remote management tools (iLo, DRAC, and the like).
The most important early product on the way to developing a good product is an imperfect version.