Last October, SunGard (NYSE:SDS) announced it was exploring splitting itself into two parts. It was certainly a change from its past. Since its founding in the early 1980s, SunGard has stitched together over 200 acquisitions.

In fact, the company started with the leveraged buyout of two unrelated companies (operating as three business segments now) that have stayed relatively unrelated since. Two of the three divisions provide support software for financial services and education, with roughly $1.8 billion in revenues and $324 million in operating income. Then there is the availability services division (which integrates security, hosting, and disaster recovery and contingency plans), which has about $1.2 billion in revenues and $340 million in operating income.

Well, sometimes the whole is worth more than the parts, as indicated yesterday when SunGard announced that it might be selling the whole company. It appears that a group of private equity firms -- Silver Lake Partners, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Bain Capital LLC, Blackstone Group LP, Carlyle Group, Texas Pacific Group, and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP -- is prepared to offer roughly $36 per share for SunGard. On the news, the company's stock price rose 24% to $31.07. An added kicker: SunGard sells mission-critical technologies -- things such as security, hosting, and disaster recovery are not what companies want to change much -- so it should be able to sustain its significant free cash flows well into the foreseeable future.

The bottom line is this: The private equity world is undergoing major structural changes. As seen with the $6.6 billion buyout of Toys "R" Us (NYSE:TOY), private equity firms are looking for much bigger prey -- which SunGard certainly is, as the valuation could exceed $10 billion. Keep in mind that deals are always in flux. A deal for SunGard involves a lot of complexity and, with the news of the prospective buyout leaking to the press, the deal could falter based on valuation (if markets push the stock price to an unreasonable high). Accordingly, jumping into the stock right now is probably for professional traders who specialize in mergers and acquisition trading, not individual investors looking for a quick buck. More to the point, individual investors would do well to expect relatively volatile stock prices in upcoming days and weeks.

Fool contributor Tom Taulli does not own shares mentioned in this article.