Tom Georgens, a veteran executive at Network Appliance (Nasdaq: NTAP), is now president and chief operating officer of the company.

The position is a new one at the high-tech company, which maintains a growing campus for research, development and customer support in RTP. The developer of storage technology is based in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Tom Mendoza, NetApp’s president since 2001, is now vice chairman of the company. That is also a new post. Mendoza is to focus on customer advocacy, the company’s internal culture and partnership efforts between NetApp and channel partners.

“Tom Mendoza is an icon and a legend at NetApp and among our customers and partners,” NetApp Chief Executive Officer Dan Warmenhoven said in a statement from the company. “Our customers know him to be a trusted adviser and listener. Our employees know that he lives our values with passion every day. Freeing him from operational responsibilities to focus his energy on our customers and culture will help us become even more responsive to the market and deeply attuned to the transformation happening in today’s data centers.”

In his new role, Georgens will incorporate NetApp’s research and development efforts more closely with sales, marketing and service, the company said.

“I believe that this will result in NetApp being more competitive, growing faster, and delivering greater value to our customers,” Warmenhoven added.

Mendoza has worked at NetApp since 1994 and had led North American sales since 2000.

Georgens went to work for NetApp in October 2005 and had served as executive vice president of product operations for the past year. He also was general manager for enterprise storage systems.